By Bob Alonzo
My wife, Binki, and I had been married 10 years and, like so many other couples, often dreamed of chucking it all and traveling the country in a recreational vehicle. The chance to go on the road came up when we sold our home in Kanab, Utah, and rented a house in Santa Rosa, Calif. We were looking into buying a house but were stunned at the price of California real estate. Then one day while house hunting, we passed an RV dealership named Rainbow’s End. They had a travel trailer on display that caught our attention. The whole rear wall lowered into a ramp. Say what? A trailer I could get my power chair into? We pulled in to investigate.
They called it a toy hauler–a travel trailer developed by southern California dirt bikers so they could haul their toys to the desert. The unit was 21 feet long and could hold a couple of motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles. It could sleep four people and had most of the comforts of home–air conditioning, heater, stove, microwave, refrigerator, and a sink with hot/cold running water. There was also a tiny bathroom with a shower–big luxuries from what we were used to. We had been camping early in our marriage and did two winters camping out of a tent and the back of an ’85 Ford Econoline van on the beaches of Baja California. That was fun–and we had a lot of adventures–but I was a 43-year-old C5 quad now, with 24 years in the chair. We still loved traveling, but hardcore camping was losing its charm. But this toy hauler was a brand new ballgame. Heck, there was enough open space in that trailer to host a wheelchair basketball tournament.
We bought it … told ourselves we’d take a three-month break from house hunting. It didn’t quite work out that way. We were having such a good time that we didn’t come “home” for the next five years.
RV in tow, we left Santa Rosa in May 1990. We’d traded Binki’s Jeep Wrangler in the negotiations for our trailer, and used our Ford van as our tow vehicle. I was now the principal driver because I drove with a joystick. It took a little practice–and a bit of nerve–but towing proved manageable. Binki was in charge of hitching, unhitching and hook-ups, and together we made a good team. Once we got our routine down, setting-up and breaking-down camp became a breeze.
Our trailer had two hide-a-bed sofas that, once deployed, became one big