By Russ and Tiña De Maris
One half of this writing crew, who shall remain anonymous, is prone to the use of mixed metaphors. Needless to say, she is a source of great humor. But on this occasion, the titled mixed metaphor is far from a laughing matter. It all has to do with our friend John and his Class B motorhome. Actually, we wish we could say “his” and mean it. Now the motorhome is ours.
It all started when John had the audacity to, as Shakespeare put it, “shuffle off his mortal coil.” Our friend’s humor outlived him, because not long after we learned of his death, the estate’s executor notified us we had come into possession of his 1988 “Custom Camper” built in Spokane, Washington. Normally, as an RVing family, we’d have been gratified that John thought so highly of us.
But here’s where that “white elephant” thing comes in. Some time back, John was making his then-annual snowbird migration down from Washington state to Quartzsite, Arizona. Somewhere north of Parker, the faithful motorhome’s transmission turned up its toes. And towed into a shop in Parker, John waited around while repairs were made. The ride from Parker to Quartzsite is but a mere 40-mile trip, and John happily got behind the wheel to finish up his interrupted journey.
Alas, somewhere between Parker and Quartzsite, the blue steed started to smoke. John told us he was just certain that the tranny job was more of a problem than a fix, but somehow, he managed to get the rig into Quartzsite, shut it off, and there it sat for uncounted years. Until that fateful day when we heard from the executor. Since John lived in an RV park, we contacted the park managers to make arrangements to wind up his estate – including the classy van.
Classy it is: A nice, extended-length Dodge van, with the custom popped-up roof. Wet bathroom, galley with stove and refrigerator, heat, convertible bed. But with that one small problem – parked with the wind out of the tires in the storage area. And that, for the park manager, was a major bone of contention. That van had to be out of there, pronto. Possessing little in the way of the skills of a professional mechanic (we’re good for an oil change, maybe even a brake job, but that’s about it), we were hard pressed to do anything much. A friend took a shine to the motorhome, and at his own expense, hired a tow company to move the rig to the dry wash next to our house.
And there it stayed. Our friend loved the interior of the rig, had visions of a spiffed up Class B smoking down the highway – but that historical smoke from the drive to Parker to Quartzsite haunted him. The dreams turned into a nightmare, and our little blue/white elephant sat in the wash.
We decided something had to be done. Why not at least start the thing up, prove that the engine ran? There was penetrating oil to be shot into the cylinders, a battery to be installed, a key to be turned! And just what kind of sounds does a white elephant (or a gift horse) make, you ask? Not a bellow. Not a whinny. A click. A simple click that sounded as though it came from the starter. And that turn signal that had been blinking reassuringly when we turned the key? No blink, no more. The whole contraption sat there as silent as the proverbial sphinx.
What’s to be done with a silent elephant or horse of unknown condition? The latter might be sent to the glue factory. But this horse isn’t even up to staggering to the glue factory. The nearest scrap yard – about 150 miles away, but “You’ll have to bring it to us, we couldn’t possibly come all that way to pick it up.”
So then what’s to be done? Put it on craigslist as a “project” for somebody who has time, energy and inclination – all of which we are of short supply? We toss it open to your suggestions.