Naming a storied vehicle

Nancy Whelan compares past traveling equipment to her current trappings

In our traveling days when we chose names for our conveyances, the ones with a week or months’ worth of necessities packed within, we weren’t thinking of playing on words.

Along our ways, and just yesterday, I’ve come across the inspirations of fellow travelers who knew how to tickle their followers’ fancies.

Many years ago, on the shore of Meziadin Lake in northern B.C., I added the first of these brainwaves to my list. “EXTENTR’ read the license plate of one palatial, block-long motor home.

With a few seconds of cogitation and saying the word aloud, we could most thoroughly appreciate the sentiments on that plate.

In the days when dollars were scarce, the family growing, and our wanderlust in full bloom, we   packed four children in the sagging vehicle of the moment, tied the tent (one gifted to us by friends after being through a flood, bashed on river rocks, and sporting a few holes) to the roof racks and took off for wherever.

We camped, fished, collected (you name it), and thrived on the wandering outdoor life … but not without a few inconveniences and discomforts.

We believed then that such hazards came with the territory and worried little about our ragtag methods of seeing our parts of the world.

With the family grown and away, traveling days assumed a different character; first a well-used camper on an aging truck until finally a brand new truck, with a back seat yet!

Behind the gleaming Ford we attached a recently acquired (not new but still gleaming) twenty-two feet of living space – a trailer with a full bathroom yet!

And we were away!

Away to Baja and the wonders of the desert, and for Jack, away to the exotic fish that lurked in semi tropical waters. This was Jack’s dream trip to find and learn about these fish for another book he was planning.

And so the packing began.

With work and ‘research’ a part of the months we would spend in Baja, a lot of ‘stuff’ was necessary.

The usual housekeeping items were packed in the trailer proper, of course, and the back of the canopied Ford was blessed with the rest.

A new computer (up-to-date DOS model!) was carefully packed and stored; a portable, home -designed and built freezer was lifted aboard, chairs, tarps, outboard motor (for boat atop truck) helped fill up the cargo space.

Any available nooks and crannies did not go unnoticed as every possible ‘might be handy’ item took its place. As it turned out this kitchen sink packing stood us in good stead.

On our homeward trip, the Baja highway wends its way up, and up, and up the Santa Rosalia hill.

Every time Jack geared down I held my breath, prepared for a stall. As we finally reached the summit and relatively level ground, a tremendous crash from the rear seemed to indicate that something was amiss.

Yep—tailgate had given up on restraining the load within and fallen open!  What did we lose on the Santa Rosalia hill … not even a paper clip! Stuff saved us.  Crammed tightly as it was into its available space, it did indeed shift a little, but nothing squeezed its way out. Tailgate closed, journey continued.

Well, this past Sunday driving up the Malahat from Victoria we were behind a 5th wheel.

Its perfect moniker, “CRAMALOT INN”.  Love it!

— Nancy Whelan’s column appears

every second Thursday in The NEWS.

E-mail: njwhelan@telus.net.

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