(with apologies to the Harvard Lampoon)

The Background, By The Numbers:

1) We camp a bit, usually in tents since we sold our last VW camper in 1998 (one moment please, while I observe a moment of tearful silence for my departed Vanagon Westy).

2) We found a great deal on this poptop trailer camper:

(OK, it actually fell into our laps, since our neighbor put it up for sale right in front of us, directly across the street)

3) We bought it, but then discovered that each of our two Subarus were too weak to pull it without retrofitting the poptop with brakes and getting a Class II trailer hitch.

4) We then discovered that no one could seem to find a Class II trailer hitch that could be installed on the Subaru–they’re pretty much Class I machines.

5) Then, being me, I decided to let the tail wag the dog and started looking for a vehicle to tow the poptop. I looked at Ford Explorers mostly, but then found this beast:

It’s a 1993 Ford Econoline E-150 conversion van with all the trimmings–including mood lighting (no, I am not exaggerating). It fits a long range goal of mine: to own another camper van. GTRV makes a Ford version of the old VW poptop van, and this is my (relatively) low cost way to see if I can make the transition to an American van.

Oh–it had 98,915 miles on the odometer.

Armed with the van, the poptop, food, packed clothes, and the kids, we began our trek on July 24, 2003 at 1:00pm. Our plan–to make the Outer Banks by nightfall.

But we didn’t get very far.

Coming in Chapter 1: “The Horror…the horror”