Feral Campers

Feral Campers

Our plan was to leave at dawn. The feral campers tend to be out then. It’s still cool, misty and barely light out. They tend to be out in fields, roadsides, the occasional junkyard. Out to get their fill of early morning sunshine, before it gets too hot (for the most part, feral campers do not have air conditioning). But, due to a soft bed, a warm sleepy cat, and a case of laziness, it was around 9 before we left. Our first feral camper hunt was under way.

Now, lest you think we are vicious, cruel people, we do not hunt the campers to slay them. NEVER! We love them, these campers that once were tame, vacation-going creatures.  We love them even more now that they’ve gone back to nature. Eschewing the traditional highway-bound adventures to go back to nature, communing with the trees, the grass, the vines and the moss. Oh, how we love them. So, we do not hunt them to shoot them, trap them or ensnare them in any way. We simply hunt with our cameras!

Now, since we left late, we realized that, like deer, the feral campers bed down during the hottest hours. Retreating, with their dirt-darkened siding and lichen-topped roofs blending into the woods around them. Camouflage at its finest. So, we searched for many hours, driving in and out of valleys, up through Roan Mountain, across Carver’s Gap, into North Carolina. Through Loafer’s Glory, into Roan Mountain again and over into North Carolina again, this time Boone. Finally, as the day cooled and the sun began to fade, there it was! Our first Feral of the day!

Years ago, this power-driven beauty was probably the cream of the crop. It has aged into a wild beauty, untamed now, hiding in the weeds along a cliff-side. It’s faded hide, still reflecting the last of the sun’s rays, reflecting all the fun it had as a people-tamed camper, before it went feral and wild with age. It did not startle, but maintained its position. No doubt, sizing up my small car as no threat. We did not make towards it, as we love them wild and do not wish to scare them from their habitats, we never linger. A couple of snaps and we were on our way again. Our happiness bolstered by the majestic glory of this once-wheeled beast.

Heading home, we never dreamed we’d hit upon another one, but suddenly, just seconds from the 421/321 intersection, there it was. Hiding in a ditch, using the weeds and vine as camouflage! According to its markings, it is a Franklin. Franklin the Feral Camper! A small member of the Feral Species, it was a tow-behind in its people years. Now, it is a small woodland creature. No doubt agile when it is not still and trying to avoid detection. We pulled alongside it and it never moved. No doubt, part of its intricate camouflage! As a people-centric camper, it had probably been a bright, shiny chrome or steel. But, now, to fit in, to survive in its feral state, it has become weathered, and it’s shine is gone. Amazing the evolution these creatures go thru!

Again, we did not linger, for fear of upsetting it, and making it afraid to return to its nesting spot. We left with a couple of pictures and a fond memory of our short, breath-taking time with Feral Franklin the Camper.

(Ever since I got bitten by the Vintage Trailer bug, I’ve noticed old campers rusting away in fields, woods, old barns and sheds. They’re usually even more dilapidated than poor Clyde. Some with vines, mold and the occasional tree growing on them. I thought of them as abandoned. And, I felt so sad for them. But, one day, I decided to look at it differently. They aren’t abandoned and unloved. They’re FERAL CAMPERS!! Once sweet, domesticated campers that served their owners well, these are trailers who have decided to return to their animalistic, natural state).


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