Sara Hawthorne and her boyfriend Chris Walzer have agreed to help with a little project here at Dirt Orcas. It is more or less a before and after story. Except we aren’t sure how it’s going to go. It may be a story of great success or it might be a cautionary tale. Either way, it should be exciting and educational.

Sara and Chris are working hard to craft a life where they can both live and work remotely. They want to travel and explore the beautiful places our country has to offer, but still have a little place to call home.

Like so many of us who share this dream, they are working to make it happen. We will be checking in on Sara and Chris periodically as their project progresses. The point of this is to help others learn from the things they do, both their great choices and their mistakes.

They are just getting started and I asked them a few questions about their goals and aspirations.

Tell me about your new trailer and the vehicle you plan to use to pull it. Year, make, model etc?

It’s a 1987 Play-Mor Travel Trailer (yet to be named). It’s small enough that you can tow it with just about any vehicle. The guy who I bought it from actually moved it around his yard with his lawn mower and his friend hooked it up to their motorcycle and went camping. I personally wouldn’t trust towing it with my Honda Fit so I plan on getting a bigger vehicle soon. With a truck or an SUV, taking the camper boondocking will be much easier.


Why did you decide this was the right one for you?

I had been dreaming about purchasing a camper for years. I would spend almost every evening browsing photos on Pinterest of camper remodel projects. Every week or so I would also browse Craigslist for campers. After a recent road trip to Crested Butte, CO where I saw dozens of campers on the road I was super motivated to get back to Fairfield and start making my dream project a reality. Within one week of deciding it was time, I found the one!

I was beyond excited to find this particular camper because it was the exact size and style I was looking for. I wanted something inconspicuous, easy to tow, and simple (no disgusting bathroom or tanks to deal with.)


What other trailers did you consider before buying this one?

I actually purchased a 1984 Toyota New Horizon in the spring of 2014 with my partner. Soon after buying it I think we both had this realization that it wasn’t really what we wanted. Chris is 6’ 4” and could barely even fit in the driver’s seat and the whole thing shook like crazy when it got up to speed! That didn’t stop Chris from trying to drive it to Cleveland that summer, but he got about an hour and half outside Fairfield (going 40 miles an hour the whole way) and realized he was getting about 7 miles to the gallon (we were originally told it got about 17 miles to the gallon.) He turned around and the RV sat in the front yard of our cabin collecting families of mice (you’re welcome, mice) until we cleaned it out and sold it the following spring.

Do you plan to make any updates or changes to the trailer?

The whole reason I bought this camper was to restore it. I just love the way the old travel trailers look and I’m a huge fan of breathing new life into what other people may consider trash. I bought the trailer for $800 and I don’t think it’ll need much more than a few bottles of silicone sealant, a couple coats of paint, and some flooring to make it look pretty dang cool. Luckily, the camper is structurally sound minus a leaky back window and all the electrical works so it’s really just cosmetic updates once we get the back window some new wood, insulation, and sealant.


What is your goal for it once it’s ready to go?

We plan to hit the road in the spring and travel to various places we’ve either already been to or would love to check out. Boone, NC, Joshua Tree, CA, Boulder, CO, Ashland, OR, Tucson, AZ, the U.P., and Canada are all on the list.

There is this amazing podcast I listen to called Girl Camper and it has really instilled confidence in me that I can “go places, do things”, and tow my little camper all by myself. Janine is always talking about these Camp Like A Girl events and other girl camper inspired adventures that encourage women to get out and solo travel. This would also be a great way for me to network for my astrology practice and to attend Mind, Body, Spirit conventions and workshops around the United States.

Another thought is to sell it right away and begin another restoration project. There is a pretty strong market for restored vintage campers these days and you can find campers like the one I got for a dime a dozen in Iowa.


Any specific places you are dreaming of taking it?

I follow this account on Instagram that belongs to a couple that does wedding photography. They recently booked a gig in Iceland and were talking about the cost of shipping their truck and camper overseas to continue their travels in other continents. The cost was pretty high, but worth it for the experience and how awesome would it be to travel abroad and have your camper home with you? No strangers couches or expensive hotels needed. That would be a dream goal of mine!


What are you afraid of as you are starting this project?

That it will never get finished! I had this moment of panic as soon as I started peeling off the vinyl interior wall underneath the back window and found wood so rotten it just crumbled in my hands. Going into this project I was also well aware that these old campers come with their fair share of issues and I had done quite a bit of research on how to do the repairs it would need. Even with all the research and planning I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing (thank God for Chris and YouTube)! My moment of glory so far? I got way too excited to start the kitchen renovations and spray painted the propane stove top with highly flammable spray paint and not high heat enamel. Oops! That’ll need to get redone!

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