We found our 1985 Travelcraft motorhome by mistake. It was love at first sight. It was one of those seldom times in life when things just fall into place at the right time all by some random chance. Just like the day we were driving from Ohio to Chicago for a weekend with friends to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. We’d been scouring Craigslist and RVTrader for months looking for the kind of set up we wanted. The roadtrip was the perfect outlet to get caught up in the wormhole that is craigstlist. Justin and I were deep in conversation about tow-behinds, over the cab bunks and black water tank situations when we came upon a giant building with a sign that read “RVMH Hall of Fame”. It caught our attention and within seconds we realized what it was and made way for the exit! We got to spend over an hour going in and out of more than twenty-five vintage RVs and motorhomes. It was so funny how random it was but even more funny that we were legitimately researching for our future purchase. If you’re ever in Elkhart, Indiana I recommend making the stop.
Fast forward about two weeks to a hot and sunny day in mid-July, we were on our way to the lake. Everything had aligned for a perfect little day off in the middle of the week. It was too nice of a day to care that the GPS had taken us the back way like they so often do. The back way really means the “wrong” way which led to the back of the lake where there was no actual entrance. We decided to ditch the GPS and go from memory. We made our way through the bordering neighborhood towards the main entrance of Portage Lakes State Park. As we made a random right onto some random street, we passed a house that was set back off the road and in that driveway she sat. About a hundred feet or more off the road but with a white sign in her windshield that caught my eye like a beacon. As we drove by I told Justin I thought it was for sale as we mentioned how it was the style we liked and it looked vintage and not cheap like some of the newer models look. We ended up having to turn around at the end of that street to get where we were going, so that meant one more pass by and this time we stopped. It was love at first sight. Instantly I felt excited like this could be the one. Since it was pulled back away from the road we couldn’t tell if it was for sale or if it had brand new owners who maybe didn’t take the sign out. Either way we decided to peek through the windows and investigate. A few phone calls and we made a date to see the inside. As soon as we walked in and it didn’t smell we knew this was promising. The interior literally looks new. It’s 30 years old…it’s as old as me and it has barely been used. The gentlemen selling it didn’t seem to have much of her history but he was confident in her so we were too. That weekend we took my Dad with us to see her again and go for a test drive, plus have him scope out the mechanical situation. My Dad is a diehard Chevy man, growing up we were a Chevy family. I didn’t have a non-chevy vehicle until I bought my own Honda in college. The motorhome is a Ford but by the look on his face I knew he was as impressed as we were with her condition.
We made an offer that day before leaving and decided to put $100 down so we could talk over the weekend and come back Monday if we decided to go for it. We grabbed a quick breakfast as payment to my Dad for helping us out and headed home for a rare Saturday afternoon nap. As we laid in bed slightly underwhelmed with our idea to take a nap, we decided instead to seize the day and we jumped back in the Jeep and headed to the bank to meet the motorhome owners to have the title notarized. We couldn’t wait until Monday…we were way too excited.
Without plates and without insurance (which I don’t recommend) and without ANY experience I hopped behind the wheel of the rig and off we went. We decided I would be the better driver of the two of us who had no experience because I had driven trucks and vans more than Justin. In all honesty, it didn’t seem that difficult and I made it in one piece thankfully.
As we roared down the freeway, I worried we might overheat or lose a tire, I worried random things might fly off or that I’d clip a semi truck with my giant mirror but none of those things happened. We stopped off at Justin’s parent’s house midway through our journey to my parent’s house where the motorhome will sit until we get her road & home ready. I was nervous about driving so far so we thought we might leave it there for a night or two. On their dead-end street in the middle of Canton city… the neighbors would love that. The thing was bigger than their house, it wasn’t until then that it really sank in. My thought was “what did we just do” I couldn’t stop shaking from the drive and from the adrenaline rush of paying cash for this giant motorized house, ha. I couldn’t believe how big it actually was now that we had something familiar to compare it to. It was on this little break that we had our first guest. One of Justin’s former soccer moms and his parent’s neighbor decided to come check it out. She said “you guys…this is just adventure waiting to happen.” We couldn’t agree more!
We wanted to surprise my parents since my Dad thought we were waiting until Monday. As we pulled up the gravel drive I honked and tooted the horn as I waived and bounced in the seat. My Dad later told us he was more surprised by the fact that I was driving and Justin was following behind me in the Jeep and not the other way around.
We didn’t spend much more time with her that day but that’s not to say that Justin wasn’t ready right then to start tearing out the furniture and carpeting.
And that’s the story of how this 1985 Travelcraft came to be ours. Thanks for reading. Follow along more of our adventures on Instagram @themotorhomememoirs