Our first RV purchase was a surprise to Bob. It was back in the summer of 1991. I bought a 12-foot Winnebago travel trailer unbeknownst to him. I had no idea at the time how it would change our lives.
It was our first summer working an outdoor flea market. Actually, the flea marketing thing was pretty much my venture. I worked the market each weekend. Bob helped me when he could, but he still had his regular full-time-and-them-some job.
That little Winnebago already has some age on it when I bought it. It was a 1962 model. I bought it from another flea market vendor at the Black Hills Flea Market in Rapid City, SD. I paid $250 dollars for it.
Although I bought it early in the day, the agreement was that I couldn't take possession of it until the afternoon. The former owner's toddler was napping in it and I needed to wait until he woke up. That was fine, because I also needed to wait for Bob to show up to move it from their vendor lot to mine.
I had been working our flea market booth myself that day, as Bob was still working at his job with the City of Deadwood. When he showed up after work, I informed him of my purchase. His first comment was, "Why?" That was immediately followed by, "How much?"
Rapid City is about 45 miles from Deadwood, where we still lived in a traditional house. My reasoning was that it would give us a place to sleep on Friday and Saturday nights, saving a few trips back and forth between the two towns. I thought it would also work well as a place to sit inside out of the rain when a shower came through, because our flea market set-up was mainly outdoors. And so, with no planning or preparation, we became RV owners.
Our Winnebago saved us a lot of miles. Prior to the RV purchase, I would often drive up to Rapid City on Friday afternoon to clean and stock the booth. We usually went to an auction sale in Rapid on Friday evenings, so either I would drive home and we'd go up together, or I would just stay there and Bob would also drive up. Then, we'd both go back to Deadwood, and one or both of us would drive up on Saturday, depending on Bob's work schedule. Then, the same trips on Sunday, with one or both of us driving back up to Rapid again. And finally, driving home again after the flea market closed on Sunday evening. Our first recreational vehicle wasn't bought for camping, or recreation, or travel -- but as a place to crash at the end of the day.
By today's standards, of course, it was very basic. But I think in its day, it was top of the line. It had a dinette table and benches on one end. A double bed on the other -- that may have folded up into a couch, but it came flat as a bed and we never folded it up. The middle section had a refrigerator (not an icebox). It had a stove top and oven, and while I used the stove top to make coffee, I never did use the oven. It had a microwave. It had a sink, with limited water. There was no bathroom, unless you count the five-gallon bucket with a tight fitting cover that we kept in the closet. It came with several lighting options - battery, shore-power, and the old-time propane lights popular in campers of that era.
After the flea market closed for the season, we sold it for $400. That covered more than half the cost of the next travel trailer we purchased, the one we would move into to begin our life as full-time RVers.
RVing and flea marketing have been part of our lives ever since that first RV.