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Thursday, September 17, 2009

HOM: Topper Times

I slept in that little topper S&S built for me more than once. I was quite happy with their implementation of my design. I got into Tucson on a Thursday night for a gun show, and the only motel room available in the area was well over a hundred dollars -- and this was in the day when Motel Six charged $9.95 for a double room. I finally gave up on Yellow Page calling and random driving and found a motel with a number of big-rig eighteen-wheelers in the lot. I located an empty slot at the edge of the parking area and pulled in, then did some rearranging and shuffling between the topper and the little book trailer to give myself some sleeping space. I figured when the truckers started pulling out there would be some vacancies. I was curled up in my sleeping bag on some boxes of books and dozing fitfully when a big diesel close by fired up -- the first of the truckers was heading out. I unkinked myself out of the truck, hobbled over to the office and scored the room that had just been vacated. I just had time to toss my stuff in it and then had to head out for the show at the fairgrounds fifteen miles out of town so I didn't get a good look at the place till that night. When I did, my topper looked a lot more inviting; at least it didn't have mold growing in the corners or urine stains on the rug. And the fact that the bunk in the topper didn't have a built-in coin-operated vibrator like the motel bed didn't even seem like a drawback. ----- Jim, Shane & I spent a night in it out hunting. Jim took the "bed", an old stretcher I'd hung along one side, and I took the floor. I'd put a drop-down hinged door on the cab-over portion and Shane was little enough then to use it as a top bunk. It actually made for a comfy night. ----- I spent a couple of comfortable nights in it over at the Moscow gun show camped in the parking lot, cooking and eating and bathing and sleeping in comfort. I liked my design and the way I'd implemented it. ----- The topper was handy at other times. "Going" in the woods is fine for bears and Popes, but when it is storming outside a Porta-Potty in the comfort of a topper is a lot more attractive alternative. Dryer, too. Having a hot cup of coffee during a mid-day break from hunting was a luxury too. Open the door of the topper, fold down a little table, dig out the coffee, pot and stove from under the bunk, pour in the water from the plastic jug, and in a few minutes it was caffeine time. ----- I usually carried five gallons of water in the topper. This came in quite handy when I blew a radiator hose near the top of a long grade south of Page. I pulled into a turn-off, dug out some patching material and patched the hose (complements of USN damage control training) and was just adding the water and wrapping things up when an AZ highway patrolman pulled in. He approved of the the patch, remarked on the wisdom of carrying emergency supplies, and topped off my water can from the big jug he carried in the trunk of his patrol car. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)