Camping has been a family staple for me as long as I can remember. In fact, one of the first trips I ever took with my husband when we met was one of the most remote camping trips I’d ever been on. It was pretty much love at first trip! My parents also used to take me and my siblings camping and same with my husband and his parents. Since we’ve been together, we’ve done many camping trips together ranging from BLM hardcore camping to setting up a vintage trailer on a lake with full plumbing and showers. Each trip has helped us to create such wonderful lasting memories, as each one will do in the future. Our more recent trips have gotten more and more organized as we’ve continued to learn what is important to pack and what is okay to leave behind. We have been camping in my in-laws 1959 Shasta trailer for the last few years. Before that we had tents and have even slept in our car. But since our last trip in May, the poor Shasta formed a leak. The trailer is obviously super old and in need of some serious renovation. It’s completely original and unfortunately has developed some wear and tear over the years. We had to tarp up the trailer this last trip since we experienced some heavy rainfall, lightning and even hail. Funny enough, people still walked by our little trailer and would tell us how cool and cute and even “how beautiful” it is. These remarks always make us want to renovate the little Shasta to not only make it more functional for the future but to make it a cool little piece of vintage camping history. In order to do that though, the trailer needs to be gutted, which means we wouldn’t have any options other than a tent for foreseeable trips. This was when we decided we should look into getting a camper of our own. This isn’t because I necessarily dislike camping in a tent, but when you camp with three dogs for a week at a time, a tent can become a bit uncomfortable. So, we started out on our journey to find the perfect camper for us.
When we started looking for a camper we knew we had to find something we could park at home so that it would be easily accessible at a moment’s notice. Sometimes camping trips just happen and it’s easiest if we don’t have to go somewhere else to pick up our camper before heading out. The Shasta we were using previously is parked at my in-laws house and unfortunately isn’t always in the most accessible place, so this was kind of our learning curve in knowing we wanted something parked at home even without any RV access. In order to fit something in the garage, we either had to find the tiniest trailer around or look into buying a pop-up camper. The tiny tear drop trailers weren’t really going to work for us – again three dogs and two humans would equal no leg room. There were some lo-liner vintage trailers that may have fit in our garage, but we felt that since we already had a vintage gem in need of work that a pop-up camper would be the best option. You can read more about our process and considerations for buying our pop-up camper in my post Buying a Pop-Up Camper: What to look for. I looked for several weeks (and let’s be real had actually been looking for months) on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and even some RV dealership websites just to see what would pop up over time (no pun intended). The RV dealerships were too expensive for sure so eventually I just stuck to Facebook and Craigslist. Luckily, there seemed to be quite a few options in our price range and people were very responsive in letting us come to view their trailers.
We looked at a few campers that fit our requirements before finding the one we ended up settling on. It had been posted on Craigslist for a week before I messaged the owner asking if they had photos. In the end, I think this was lucky for us because I don’t think many people bother with Craigslist posts that don’t include photos of the item for sale. Instead of waiting for photos to be posted, I realized the trailer was fairly local to us and decided to set up a time to go see it instead. When we got there, I was floored by the condition and the care given to this trailer that was over 20 years old. The owner was the original and only owner of the 1996 Jayco J-1007 that we went to go see. He brought it with him through a couple of interstate moves and had used it to take his family camping over the last 23 years. You could tell the trailer was loved because the condition was impeccable compared to the other trailers we saw of around the same age. The trailer had been garage kept as well which kept the exterior in pristine condition. I was so excited to find something so nice and in our price range. I think the owner knew too because he said that someone had recently told him that he could have sold it for more if he wanted to. I think the fact that he knew we were going to use the trailer instead of just trying to flip it to make a buck made him feel okay but offering it for a lower price. You could tell he had loved this trailer. He spoke fondly of all the trips he went on with his family and reminisced about all of the beautiful photos he could have posted in his Craigslist ad. In the end, he even mentioned that he was happy it was going to go to someone who would actually use it. We were thrilled to carry on this little trailer’s life and ended up naming him Randall in honor of the original owners. This wasn’t the owner’s name but the name of the street which we went and purchased the trailer from. I think it’s a fun nod to our camper’s history, and let’s face it, it’s just fun to name inanimate objects.
So let me tell you a little bit about this camper and why we love it so much. It is a 1996 Jayco J-1007. It’s one of the mid-size pop-up campers that Jayco offered in this year which was a selling point for us since we knew we wanted to fit it into our two car garage. When fully extended it’s about 22 feet long and sleeps up to 8 people which is quite a lot compared to other pop-up campers. We love that it has a queen size bed on one side of the pop-outs. The Shasta had a teeny tiny bed that wasn’t even a full size so the prospect of having some wiggle room is definitely exciting. The other side is a full size bed. There are also two areas that could serve as dining areas. One is the familiar booth layout with benches on either side and the other is a U-shaped seating area with a table in the middle. Both tables are removable so you can use them outside or not at all. I foresee us using the U-shaped area as more of a couch than a dining space, or setting up the table for game nights when we have guests camping with us or nearby. Both dining areas fold down into decent sized beds as well. I love that the tables can be moved outside. One of the tables even attaches to the outside of the trailer so that it’s like an entirely separate dinette area. There’s not a whole lot of storage in this camper, but we knew we could make it work. I hope to be able to do a post eventually on how we end up organizing the trailer as well as tips for what essentials to keep and what to toss. Some of our other requirements were a stove that was indoor/outdoor, which it has, and a refrigerator which it also has. This will make cooking and storing food so much easier than it has been in the past with ice chests and ice boxes. There is an awning that rolls up and stores inside of a case on the outside of the roof of the trailer. It’s fairly easy to set up and will make the perfect place to hang our string lights. We have a pop-up shade tent too, but this will make it even nicer when we end up in sites without alot of shade. The feature that we hadn’t really thought about was the heater. However, after seeing that it had one my mind reeled with the possibility of coastal camping trips or camping trips later in the year when it gets a bit chilly. It will definitely be a nice amenity to have even if we don’t use it often.
Overall, I am so frickin’ excited about Randall (and his name if I’m being honest). I think what I’m most excited about is how clean and ready to use the camper is. We are actually going on our maiden voyage this weekend (more on that in another post later on). I definitely have plans of makeovers and glamping it up, but knowing I can use it without having to fuss over it first is so nice! I can actually take my time to do a budget/thrifted makeover and find things that I really like and want to use for Randall’s new look. I feel like everything just worked out perfectly from the condition, to the price, the amenities and that fact that we (more like my husband) were able to get it up our super steep driveway and into our garage without too much effort. Sometimes things just fall into place and it’s such a wonderful feeling. I can’t wait for our trip this weekend and to use Randall for the first time. Stay tuned for more pop-up camper posts and exciting adventures in the world of pop-up camping!
Until next time,