We had the great misfortune of leaving Cooter Hollow for what was to be a brief respite recently. This turned into a trip that ended with re-entry via sledgehammer and the consequential installation of a shiny new door. Because when one whines about not having nice things, and pines for improvements to the Cooter Hollow living situation, one is almost always talking about replacing the front fucking door.
So we have a nice new front door. Made of steel. Would you like to know what it enters unto? Because I don’t think we’ve talked about it yet. And doors that open onto the air are the stuff of Peter Greenaway movies, and we’re not that pretentious, so if you’re planning to live in any way approximating how we live (godspeed), here’s how you might bunker up on the cheap through a long winter and not freeze to death.
1> Buy a little camper. Bonus points if you’ve got one to sell, and are offloading it way after the summer camping season, and it looks beautiful at first glance, and you’ve got a couple of young desperate fools who’re trying to winter in a camper. Ours is sixteen feet, was lovingly cleaned and freshly papered and paneled throughout, and, once we towed it to the top of the mountain and settled into it, we discovered it sweat worse than a politician freshly busted for trawling the airport bathroom, and was moldier than a cow field. In other words, we wuz robbed. Swindled. Sold a pristinely polished turd. And so:
2> Peel off all cupboard doors, closet coverings, trim work, and anything else that conceals any of the camper’s guts. These things are relics of civilized life, and you’re no longer that. Plus, it’s a trick. A condensation trap. A perfect mold inoculation chamber. Death behind a closed door. Get rid of all of it. Realize you have been swindled a little, with this camper purchase, and that the republican bumper stickers should have tipped you off. Shrug it off; you’ve already dragged the camper to the top of a mountain using four wheelers and come-alongs; you’re so far beyond the event horizon that the swelling trombones of hollywood soundtrack music kicks in when you even think of trying to return it. So, instead, gather all of the doors and detritus outside and hack it up to bits, preferably with an axe. (This step it optional, but a lot of fun, and an effective proxy to the republican swindler.) Then, start a fire, and burn that shit. Yes, your closet’s contents, including all your intimates, will be exposed. You now live in a 16-foot trailer in the woods. You’ve given up any sense of decency. Embrace your immodesty as a newfound freedom.
3> Recall that camper trailers are generally designed to be pulled into the state park twice a year, plugged in, and used for a gentle weekend of hotdogs and badminton. Remind yourself that you plan to live in your camper for far longer than two days. Freak out over this fact, then get over it and prepare yourself for the winter. To stay warm, we (well, he, but I helped! By holding nails and things) built a rustic 9×9 square shed affixed to our camper, connecting it at the main trailer door. In this addition, he installed the smallest wood stove we could find, and we managed to stay more than warm all winter. We also used the space for storage and muddy boots, so that every last square foot in the camper could be amply shared by the fourteen people and two-dozen beasts dwelling here (only the barest exaggeration).
4> Even though we now have a woodstove capable of heating a baseball stadium, we’re not profligate people, and campers aren’t insulated. To help things here, we bought several sheets of pink insulating foam, several 4×8-foot pieces of OSB, and lots of wood glue, creating delicious insulation sandwiches, which we then used to skirt around the camper, which kept the wind from sweeping beneath it and hurling us into space.
5> Oh, by the way, while you’re tearing the guts out of your camper, it might make sense for you, as it did to us, to remove the convertible sofa/master bed from the place. We (he) built a permanent bed platform in its place, given that we’re sleeping here every night, and getting no use out of the sofa-ish components. The permanent bed frame sits a little higher, and opens up the space beneath for additional storage, as well as access to the plumbing and heating units. This access is needed, because these units will break sometimes. “Sometimes” should here be interpreted to mean “when you’re running late for something very important, or dehydrated and freezing to death, or otherwise least prepared for twenty gallons of water on the floor.” That it happens is inevitable; how you comport can earn you a Cooter Hollow iron-on badge.
6> When winter’s on the wane, you’ll notice the locals asserting that it was an easy one. They’ll likely even lament the years of six-foot snowdrifts and death-knell snowstorms. You will rightfully smirk at this. Your winter was tough, and these pussies would never have made it. Plus, you now have the firmest ass in the valley, and you still have a camper.
So there you have it. Dwelling, in a structure, albeit basic. While far from perfect, it includes a propane fridge, to keep things cold, and a basic stovetop (also propane) to warm them back up. You have walls, however threadbare, and lights, and heat, and a bookshelf, and a beautiful new front door that, if the key is lost, can be violently broken down in the middle of the night without anyone around to call the fuzz. Which, I know, sounds like an invitation to The Bad Guys to come and do the same, so dear Bad Guy, please know that our immodest little abode also contains firearms and people trained and willing to use them.