When I was a kid, family vacations typically involved trekking up and down the East Coast and into Canada with a small travel trailer tagging along behind us.
Some of the best memories of my childhood are from these trips, and I’ve had this crazy dream of doing another vacation–some day–with a small camper.
The first trailer that Wayne and I bought was an empty (like seriously empty!) 1995 Scamp trailer, and we spent more time renovating it than actually camping! Still, it was a wonderful experience, and we always had fun when we did take it out somewhere. 🙂
We sold the Scamp in July 2018 when we bought a used Coachmen Clipper 14R. The Clipper was basically the same size as our Scamp (just a little boxier and a little heavier), and we were delighted to have a sink, stove, furnace, and bathroom in our new-to-us trailer. The only thing we missed was having a small, separate dinette (like we’d built in the Scamp), and so we measured and did some drawings in case we wanted to make that modification in the future.
After our first camping trip of 2019 with the Clipper, Wayne and I continued to talk about the feasibility of making a dinette in the trailer. We also talked about the possibility of getting a slightly larger trailer with a dinette already in it. Decisions, decisions….
I started looking online to see what was available, but immediately ruled out a lot of campers due to their price–or their weight. Even though my Kia has a towing capacity of 5000 lbs–which is pretty good for a mid-size SUV–I wanted to keep the weight of any new trailer to 3000 lbs or less. (Even our basically-empty Scamp that weighed 1650 pounds made itself known when going over Afton Mountain, so keeping the weight down was really important.)
We already knew we liked the Coachmen brand, and while researching I discovered that the Coachmen Clipper 17FQ weighs in at just over 2700 pounds. Do-able. We both really liked the layout, too:
When I searched online for this specific model, I was somewhat surprised to see that there were only 4 used 17FQs within 250 miles! The closest one was at an RV center 20 miles north of Richmond, and on April 28th we decided to go take a look at it. While I didn’t rule out the possibility of actually purchasing it if we liked if (if I could arrange to trade in our 14R), we mainly wanted to see if we liked the layout, in person, as much as we thought we would.
The trailer was a 2018 and the price was pretty good (especially for one that new), but there was some odd damage to both the inside and the outside. Clearly, it hadn’t been treated well by its previous owners. We found that we really did like the layout and other features, but we knew that this particular trailer was not for us. (As of this post, it’s still available at the RV center, at an even lower price.)
The next Saturday, we decided to go to Harrisonburg. Trailer shopping wasn’t the primary reason for the trip, but I knew of a couple small RV places in the valley that I wanted to check out, just in case. 😉
As usual, I-81 north had lots of truck traffic. Since we were in no particular hurry, I got off the interstate at the Verona exit to do the rest of the drive on scenic Rt. 11. Just seven miles up the road, however, we ran into a ton of slow/stopped cars due to the conclusion of commencement exercises at the local community college. The going was so slow (seriously, simply sitting still a lot) that we thought about turning around and getting back on the interstate. The Waze app on my phone showed it clearing up in a couple of miles, so we stuck with it and crept our way northward….
Once we were moving again, we passed through the tiny, historic town of Mt. Crawford about five miles up the road. On the north end of town, I saw something that made me do a double-take.
“Did you see that?” I asked Wayne. Yes, he’d seen it, too. We didn’t know which model it was, but we’d just driven past a used Coachmen Clipper with a 4-Sale sign on it in a driveway. Hmmm….. We turned around, pulled into the driveway, and called the number listed on the sign. Almost immediately a man answered and said he’d be right out.
Well, of course you know where this story is going: It was, indeed, a Clipper 17FQ–a 2015, and in excellent condition! The owner had done some really nice upgrades, which included putting in a thermostat-controlled air conditioner and installing an electric tongue jack. He’d recently had it de-winterized and thoroughly inspected by an RV shop, and the next thing I knew, I was buying a(nother) trailer!
Due to our crazy work schedules, we thought we’d have to wait until the following weekend to bring it home, but the man we bought it from and one of his buddies delivered it to us that Tuesday!
It was funny seeing the two trailers sitting side by side in the yard. They’re the same height and width, but the 17FQ is 400 pounds heavier and 5 feet longer.
After placing ads on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace–and after one deal that fell through–our Clipper 14R sold on May 15th. It was picked up and towed to its new home the next afternoon. 🙂
When I’ve told some friends the story of how we happened to acquire our new-to-us trailer, they’ve said that it was “meant to be.” I have to admit that it does make you wonder….
To recap, I was looking for a very specific Coachmen Clipper model, and this one was not advertised on the internet or anywhere else; it was just in the seller’s driveway with a sign on it.
If I hadn’t gotten off the interstate when I did, we wouldn’t have known about it.
If I’d gotten back on the interstate when we ran into the traffic on Rt. 11, we wouldn’t have known about it.
If we hadn’t decided to go to Harrisonburg the day we did, we wouldn’t have known about it, as it probably would have sold. (The seller got a call from a prospective buyer while we were there, and someone else was supposed to see it the next day.)
So does this mean we’re on track to move into the next phase of “crazy dreams” and do a road trip with it this summer? Dunno for sure, but for now we can’t wait to get out with it, somewhere!
Until next time,
Sharon & Wayne