The 1969 Dodge Travco That Started it All

Two years ago we started the Baby Boomer Adventures blog based on the purchase of a 1969 Dodge Travco we found on craiglist in Tennessee. It was turquoise blue and white, both classic and a little corny, with a lot of rough edges and even more potential. It was the perfect throwback to the baby boomer generation and the launch pad for new careers as the “voice of the boomer generation”. We had visions of plastering our web address down both sides, loading up the dogs, some video cameras and editing equipment, and traveling the U.S. in our awesome new “Boomer Mobile” chasing baby boomers and their adventures from coast to coast.

It took six months to get the Travco registered after we discovered it had no vehicle identification number, then Michael left for the RV Training Center in Florida for nine weeks. Two weeks after he left, I broke my ankle so severely that I was in bed for two months and have only recently become mobile enough to tackle the interior restoration, and our grand plan to conquer the world in a 1969 Travco was replaced by the inescapable realization that a 27 foot Dodge Travco was never going to accommodate two adults, two cats and three dogs no matter how grand our dreams.

Because Michael has been working almost non stop as a mobile RV technician when he isn’t working as a whitewater raft guide on the French Broad River, it fell to me to begin the restoration myself. I pulled up all the old carpet, cleaned and refinished all the wood work, cut and stained new wood panels and all the baseboard, reupholstered the banquet seats, made new curtains, and with the leftover fabric, made a quilt and matching throw pillows, and replaced all the carpeting. We will be putting the Travco up for sale just as soon as Michael has had the chance to test all the operating systems, including the generator, water pump, heating and air conditioning.

We hope someone out there sees in the “Boomer Mobile” what we did, and they can put it to good use on some awesome camping trips around the U.S. We haven’t given up on the dream of becoming the voice of the boomer generation, but we need to do it in an RV that has room for our menagerie, a Harley Davidson, an editing bay, and a future big enough to accommodate all the living we have left to do.

Well, Dip Me in Spit and Cover Me with Bird Droppings….

I have just witnessed a miracle.  After seven months spent jumping through increasingly smaller hoops accompanied by the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher in the background, the journey to obtain a title for the Dodge Travco we bought last February has finally…just today…resulted in an official document delivered to my mailbox by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, and which is now in my hot little hands.

This seemingly ordinary event began when we purchased this awesome turquoise and white throwback, and drove it from Crossville, Tennessee to Asheville and discovered that it had no vehicle identification number.  Anywhere. On the entire vehicle.  North Carolina has turned purchasing anything with wheels  into an art form of  Draconian proportions under the best of circumstances; if you purchase a vehicle in the state, both parties must be present to have the title transfer notarized, which means, you can buy a car on Saturday, but until you can have the transfer notarized on Monday, you are out of luck.  In our case, we bought an “antique” vehicle, which means (under normal circumstances) an inspector comes to your house, checks your paperwork against the VIN number, signs off on it, and away you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a registration, and hopefully, a brand new title.

The Travco didn’t HAVE a VIN number, so the inspector issued a new one, which means we had to get an indemnity bond from an insurer stating that they were willing to take the risk that we hadn’t stolen it and that the seller was satisfied it was no longer his.  After obtaining said documentation, we took everything to the bank to have it all notarized.  Nobody said we had to do that, but we figured, why take any chances?  I went to mail it, but there was no address, so I took it to the local Department of Motor Vehicles, figuring, after weeks of struggling trying to pull all the paperwork together that I was good to go.

The woman who runs the Department of  Motor Vehicles said Michael had to be there to sign off on it as well.

Naturally.

At the time, he was working at the river from 7 am to 7 pm  and couldn’t get to the Department of Motor Vehicles if his life depended on it. Of course, this being the rural south, there ARE ways around the problem.   I looked this woman in the face and said, “”What would you say if I told you that Michael was out in the car.  That he broke his leg and he can’t make it up the stairs?” She shot back, “Did he break his leg today?”  Without skipping a beat, I told her, “its funny you should say that, because he just broke it this morning”.  She told me would just go ahead and look up his driver’s license information, the paperwork was handed over, and off I went….

When I finally got a letter in the mail TWO MONTHS LATER, it said that the indemnity bond didn’t specify that the “body style” of the vehicle was a “housecar”.  Which is a quaint way of saying it isn’t exactly a recreational vehicle but it IS bigger than a breadbox.  Now my indemnity bond needs a rider, so I apologize profusely to my insurance agent for the trouble I have put her through, but I get the rider, I send it off and two more months pass before I decide to call the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what is going on.  The woman who took my call said, “Oh, well, it doesn’t say on the indemnity bond rights of survivorship, but it DOES say that on the registration, and the two have to match exactly”.

Seriously?  Now my rider, needs a rider (how very “party of the first part”, “who’s on first” of you) and by the way, would it have killed you people to catch that the last time I needed a damned rider? I mean, you have been at this for five months now.  Surely someone might have noticed that particular discrepancy before.  Except that I find out that once the paperwork reaches the special titles  office it goes to ONE PERSON.  ONE person WITH a job, who WANTS to KEEP IT gets to mosey through stacks upon stacks of paperwork looking for errors so they can get a regular paycheck while the rest of us have to wait around for the damned title to show up – someday.  And no one, not even my patron saint at the DMV had ever heard of someone having to jump through so many hoops just to get a damned title in the 25 years she’s been doing her job.

But here it is, in a stack of mail, on a day when I sold the glass kilns from Michael’s studio for some decent coin, got a killer deal on business cards and t-shirts for the new RV business (website in progress!), won $10 from a scratch off lottery ticket, nabbed a room for the Occasion for the Arts Show in Williamsburg  the first weekend in October for a song, got my confirmation email from VibrantNation.com as a guest blogger, put my first short story in the mail for a writing competition that pays $1000 to the grand prize winner with a story about  a lime (of all things) and wound up on the waiting list (okay, that part kinda sucks. I’d love for some art show to just go wild and take me on the first try, but what the hell) for the American Crafts Council show in Baltimore this February.

So somebody, dip me in spit and cover me with bird droppings.  Cause this girl is on FIRE!!!

Leaving Behind the Crossroads of Nowhere and Not Much Else

 

When I started this blog seven months ago, I had an idea in mind about where this would all lead.  But like any new venture that starts with little more than a concept, we soon found that our purpose, as well as our direction, was at a crossroads. Michael and I were both successful artists.  We’ve both known what we wanted to do with our lives for the past twenty years, and we had the experience, and the drive to make it happen.

Then the world changed, and we suddenly found that all the talent, focus and commitment on the planet  wasn’t enough to take us where we expected to go.  Neither one of us could even GET into an art  show, and when we did, we barely made back our expenses.  Art isn’t  the best business model under the best of circumstances, and with one of the worst recessions in history clawing maniacally at the gains we’d made, we knew we had to do something, anything to keep from going under…

The question was, what?

We are both type A, both first-born, both accustomed to setting a goal for ourselves and then committing to the hard work to make it happen.  Seven months ago we found ourselves wondering what on earth we wanted to do with the next chapter of our lives and we were shocked (and a little desperate) to find we had no answer for that question.  Even when we asked each other what we would do if money were not an issue, there was a crashing silence.

Then Michael found a craiglist ad for a 1969 Dodge Travco in Crossville, Tennessee, and we thought we’d found our purpose again.  We both love to travel and thought, this could be it.  This could be where we start again.  The Travco seemed to represent  many of the things we wanted; the freedom to travel, a ready-made business catering to the baby boomer generation (most of whom seemed to be experiencing the same financial and directional setbacks we had), the chance to be self-employed again.  There seemed to be a whole bunch of us who never expected to be in this position at this time in our lives, and because we are healthier and more vital than any other generation in history, we thought we could create an opportunity where it seemed none really existed; we could show people like us how to have the adventures they’d planned for at this age, but on a budget.

We dubbed the Travco the “Boomer Mobile” and immediately found ourselves at a crossroads again.  It’s an awesome vehicle and an amazing attention getter. But it’s also not big enough to allow us to do everything  we wanted to do now, and anyway, despite firing up like a champ after not being driven for months, and sailing down the freeway at 70 miles an hour like it was nothing when we brought it home, we just didn’t know enough about it to think this was something we would feeling comfortable striking out in.

If we were going to travel the country shooting segments for the WebTV program we also planned to launch, and we got stuck somewhere along the way, then what?  We were going to be traveling on a shoestring to begin with as it was until the business took off.  We couldn’t afford to see  this thing parked beside the road before we ever even left the state.  Not that it would happen – we could have driven to California and back without a problem – but we just couldn’t take that chance. Here’s the thing about being at a crossroads though.  You aren’t obligated to continue along the path you are on just because it seems like a good idea at the time.  After talking it over, Michael and I decided there was a different way to go about this new business, and now that we have done what we do best; hunkering down, setting a goal, saving the money, researching our options and focusing in on how to make it all happen, we have a new plan of action.

In two weeks, he starts school at the RV Training Center in Largo, Florida.  It’s a ten week course and at the end of it, he will be certified to repair everything from teardrop trailer to a 40 foot Prevost.  I will be taking writing classes at AB Tech and UNC Asheville and continuing to blog about our experiences.   We still have plans to launch a Web TV program about baby boomer adventures, write a book about boomer travel, and next year, we will also offer an exclusive, four-day intensive raft school for boomers who want to learn how to whitewater raft without necessarily becoming guides.  We will also finish the renovations on the Travco, and may wind up selling it to help finance an upgrade to a larger RV.  On one hand, I hate to see it go.  It has a whole new interior and looks on the inside exactly the way you would expect it to given what it looks like on the outside.  But it’s served its purpose by inspiring us to look beyond the excitement of launching a new business, and the contentment that comes with knowing, it is finally going to happen.

So if you have been following this blog and wondering what happened to us….we found our path again, and left the crossroads behind us.  Its time to get back to the business of living,  learning, and having fun….