A New Rocinante Jr.

In a sequence of events that still leaves me highly irregular to think about, the little white Westfalia shown in the blog on the Bristlecone Pines trek is no longer part of my future’s plans.  To use a sailing metaphor, that part of the plan was run aground in a fog.  But hey, y’know, sometimes things happen for a reason and this seems to have turned out to be one of them. Some lessons are extraordinarily costly – as was this one – but the flip side is that those expensive lessons (and not always just those economic in cost) often turn out to be the most important and far reaching of life’s lessons providing insight well beyond the obvious items.

When looked back on from a positive perspective, I did also learn a few important things from using the Westy that, as you might have surmised from the blog on my Bristlecone Pines workshop, I really saw initially as an ideal combination travel/production vehicle.  The original “Rocinante,” my 26- foot Coachman, is simply too big to easily get around in and it’s patently insane to try to park at the stores in smaller towns… or sometimes even in larger towns or to conveniently just pull over in the National Parks and scenic byways to grab a shot so there was frequently no option but to drive on by, whining with every foot past a great view.

The little Westy, however, opened my eyes to new possibilities because it went anywhere, parked anywhere, and even as a common daily driver was nearly perfect.  But there was a down side as well.  It was a little small and though it served well as either a travel rig or a production rig, it was not all that ideal as both at the same time.  I put in a solar panel, auxiliary batteries, Thule roof pod, and boosted cell reception, but it didn’t have AC (that was planned as a later install), no power steering (though my shoulders were getting stronger), no bathroom, and because any additional space was based on the pop-up roof, required moving gear up and down to reveal or use the lower bed.  But still, it was very cool, I loved it, and I expected it to be able to make it work just fine until down the road at some point it would go back to the actual owner much improved from when it came into my possession.

But… in the back of my mind, I had once had a friend who had a Roadtrek 190 “Popular” (the model name) Class B rig that they graciously loaned to me to use for a workshop and it was about as perfect as it was possible to be.  Not a family rig by any means, but for one or two people plus gear, it was great and I never forgot how handy it was.  If only the Westy was just a little bit bigger…

So, when the Westy went away into a black hole of abject weirdness, I turned my attention to finding something more like that Roadtrek 190.  The problem is, Roadtreks are one of the “gold standards” of their class and I assumed I could not really afford one, so looked initially at quite a few similar rigs by other manufacturers.  To be honest, none impressed me all that much.  So when a stunningly good deal on a real Roadtrek appeared in Craig’s List I went to see it.  For the price I honestly expected it to be trashed. The photos were great, but I do know what is possible in modern photo editing.  And then I saw it… I was bowled over; it looked like it just rolled off the showroom floor.  So, I put down a deposit on the spot and a week later all of the paperwork was completed and today, it is now mine.

Roadtrek Day One Driver Side 01 for web

The new (to me) Roadtrek 190 “Popular.”  This one is on a 1996 Chevy extended C30 (1-ton) chassis.  It is nearly pristine inside and out and loaded with options and power-everything! The body is 19 feet, bumper-to-bumper for all of the 190 models, but those on the Chevrolet chassis had a longer wheelbase than ones on the Dodge chassis which puts the rear axle further back for less overhang

There are some things I’d like to do to it as I had done to the Westy such as the solar panel installation and the cell reception booster.  But since the economic reality in my post-VW moment has persuaded me as to the wisdom of delaying my retirement plans at school, at least for another semester, there is plenty of time to do all of those things to the Road Trek. And since it starts already with more functionality, mercifully there will be less to do to it.

Roadtrek day one pass side 01 for web

The Roadtrek from the passenger side showing the factory optional awning.  The deal was incredible and impossible to resist…..  I can hardly wait to get it on the road!

So let me proudly introduce you to Rocinante, Jr., or just “Junior.” That’s its “working” name for the moment.  I have not driven it except to bring it home from up north (it’s too tall for our school parking structures) and to the bay to photograph it, so have not yet discovered what its real name should be.  But I do not want to have to redo the blog, so will delay that for down the road.  For now, with “The Photo Report” project getting underway (I’ll explain that in the next post), a vehicle with room to store lots of gear and still have an open bed, bathroom, etc. the future that was plunged into a very dark place is once again looking better by the moment.

Plus, I’ve just been contacted by a publishing company regarding the creation of interactive student learning aides which sounds fascinating.  So perhaps this new chapter for me will be off to a good start.  I certainly have everything crossable, crossed.  And if I can rebuild the treasury I can revisit turning in the paperwork for my retirement from teaching full time.  I love teaching too much to turn my back on it entirely but maybe its time for some part time work and/or concentrating more on doing seminars and workshops.  A recent department meeting convinced me the State system is the sworn enemy of vocational programs and the use of Community Colleges for anything other than creating fodder for the 4-year schools.  Treasury or not, retirement is sounding better by the day and this new camper is not helping things in that regard.

roadtrek Day One Rear PAss 01 for web

Sorry, the little Canon 120 P&S camera I shot these with got nudged into one of its “artsy modes” unintentionally and that is what is creating the obnoxious haloing in this shot.  But it does show the rear of the van with the double doors that I love and the expensive optional “Continental Kit” spare tire carrier.  In fact this one is filled with options including a microwave, TV connections, even optional sliding overhead storage drawers over the cab.  Yep, I think it will do very nicely!

I’m soooooo deeply drawn to the idea of hitting the road at least for a day or two to recharge my own internal “batteries” and clean some of the dark, ugly funk out of my spirit with the clean air of the mountains or desert.  Unfortunately, this coming weekend will be filled with grading and school stuff plus I’ll be judging at a local photo club event which breaks up the weekend, so there’s no time to try a test trip.  But the following weekend, however, if I can keep a schedule open, then maybe that will be a good opportunity for the shakedown cruise.   We’ll see…

OK, next time after a meeting in a few days I’ll be in a position to tell you about “The Photo Report” project.



About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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