Sun setting over a 1970 Avion C11 truck camper parked in a Walmart Parking lot.

We roll back onto the highway for day 2 of our return trip.

We had planned to enjoy some of Florida’s natural attractions while on the return trip. At the very least, we made it to Silver Springs to experience the placid water, Hollywood history, and search for wild monkeys. More on that some other time. Suffice it to say, new revelations pushed us to take a less leisurely yet roundabout return route.

We had planned to take a relaxed route back and enjoy a few sites while in Florida. We only managed to see Silver Springs before we fully appreciated the challenges ahead of us and decided to prioritize getting the camper to a place where we could fix it.
Silver Springs was amazingly lush. As short of a respite as it was, we were grateful for the opportunity to relax for a bit before the rest of our trip.
Brilliant plants flourish in the lush Silver Springs.

After a day of driving, we take stock. We drive onto a scale at a truck stop to learn that the truck camper is a little heaver than reported: 2,800 lbs. that isn’t a great concern, we have a one-ton truck. The addition of the camper has done little to affect the truck aside from its gas mileage. Even so, the gas milage remains quite similar to what we usually experienced with the fiberglas shell and bed in the back. In fact, the weight on the truck’s tight shocks means that the ride is actually smoother.

High on our list of things to do was to get an actual sense of the weight of the camper. Records were one thing, we wanted the actual weight.
The combined weight of the camper and Dodgy came out to 9800 pounds. Good to keep in mind as we continue our route along small country highways.

While the weight news is good, there is a different problem. The tie-down hooks which secured the camper onto the truck bed are working loose. We can see threads of the screws meant to secure the hooks to the camper’s undercarriage. Our hacked together restraints are only as good the hooks to which they are attached. The trip back is going to be even slower than we had anticipated. We had thought that we could continue to travel with the Avion as we improve it. But now it is clear that we will have to do some major reworking before we can safely return it to the road.

We began resorting to counting the exposed screw threads to track if there was any further damage.

And so we cruised along country highways, past cypress trees draped in moss. Brilliant patches of pink and gold wildflowers dust the road dividers. Night two, we camp in another Walmart parking lot just after crossing into Georgia. This is the most surreal experience we have ever had staying overnight at a Walmart. Cars full of teenagers and twenty-somethings descend on the lot, lining up in a row and blaring music as the occupants mill around: chatting, snap chatting, or singing along with Carrie Underwood on the radio. At the height of the cacophony, it all abruptly ends. In unison, owners and passengers dive into their cars and tear out of the lot as a police car enters and circles around.

We watch four men meet up to inspect a boat hooked to a pickup truck. They shake hands, unhook the boat, drive the truck away, and back in an SUV. Craigslist transaction complete at the speed I had expected for our Avion.

This was the most surreal parking lot we have ever overnighted.

Another transaction occurs at 2AM. I wake to a motorcycle circling our camper and revving its engine. I roll out of bed and peer through a window. Four people stand around an idling motorcycle. Then the motorcycle takes off for another loop. This time at top speed until it slows and returns to the huddle for more discussion. Again and again until there is a handshake and the motorcycle speeds away and the other four disperse. Who sells a motorcycle at 2AM?

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.


  • Steve Gumble

    May 19, 2020

    I think you meant to say 2,800 pounds not 28,000!

    • Lexi Goforth

      May 19, 2020

      You’re the first to catch that! Thanks, Steve


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