Finding Esmeralda

Why do people name their vehicle ?  Its kind of like in Germany , our home country , when you start to call each other by the firstname . Its an act of friendship and deeper understanding. And often it takes years of formal greetings , Herr ? und Frau? and Sie  before the little ceremony of  first names are introduced to your good friends … We had a hard time to find a successor to our VW Eurovan , which served us well for many years . While the two younger kids nicely fitted into the  top bunks, we even packed  all four kids   plus boyfriends by also using the tent addition to the sliding door .

Then , kids growing up and just for the 2 of us , with the VW eurovan no longer in production , we looked at all the different options , T@b trailers , Sprinters , Crickets and ended up falling in love with truck campers. That’s how it all started …….

Why don’t we buy a truck camper first and then a truck ? ….Sounded like a great idea  at the time . So we found a very newish Palomino Bronco camper for very little money . Its like learning a new language , we proudly talked about truck bed length , Gross vehicle weight and camper accessories and it was easily forgotten that really , we had  no clue.

It turned out to be from the Heartland of american mass production, Michigan , the center  of RV manufacturing.   Looking great inside and out on first glance , but then  the bed  is too  soft  , the windows and roof leak  when it rains , the smart lifter to raise the poptop crashes down on you when you release the crank, when the on board battery gets low  it drains the battery of the  truck  (Hi neighbor any jumper cables ?) and so on . According to the Manufacturer  this was the lightest camper being offered and already to heavy for the truck we bought to fit , a 2006 Toyota Tundra ( the biggest , sturdiest Toyota pickup) . Obvious solution as always is to buy more gear , airbags to help the overloaded springs and special tie downs attached to the frame to accommodate the heavy weight .

The little research we should have done before hand , revealed that there are better solutions . Four wheel camper , XP camper in our home town , Phoenix and others, which build light weight truck campers with aluminium frames or fiberglass like boats. We got all excited again ….. but even a 15 or 20 year old of those was still more money then our almost new Palomino. We did go to the factory for Four wheel campers and did like the shiny models  and for a moment considered ordering a new one ….hmmm $30 k + for the one we want , the  Hawk model with our specs ? Lets see if we find a slightly used one.

It did feel like joining a church , after we fell into the truck camper community and the very few loosing faith and selling their 4wheel campers are immediately swarmed by buyers from all over the US . In our desperation we had bought a Four wheel camper Grandby , too long and big  for our truck , but 1/2 the weight of the Palomino .Check out Wander the West, but be aware , you may get infected

When we found our current Esmeralda camper ,  a Four wheel camper , model Hawk , and put the  Grandby up for sale , the phone did not stop ringing .

At that point we where  ready to take our Hawk and talk on a first name basis . Our female looking  Toyota tundra  truck with the roundish corners , was replaced in 2007 with more macho looking models and 4 wheel camper had to raise the campers to fit the taller bigger beds and cabs .

Hawk in snow

So Esmeralda seemed like a good name for this special combo of Truck and camper. And after living, cooking and sleeping in the few square feet the truck camper offers , it does feel like a real gem.

After coming back from our Central America trip, the first outing went to Flagstaff , Arizona , for the Overland Expo . While we love Esmeralda 1 ,there are little things that could be optimized and that seem important on the 40sqft of living space. On the Expo we have access to all the cool overlander trucks and campers and slowly see our Esmeralda 2 emerging . 

Even with the light weight camper we had ,the 1/2 ton trucks are overloaded and its almost impossible to stay in legal payload limits with a fully loaded camper . So we found a new Nissan truck with about a 1000 pound more payload then the Toyota Tundras.

Ok ,its not as balanced and pretty as the old one , but takes the load without a blink. With that new base we are ready for an improved camper as well and ordered one in Colorado, based on our specs from a small company called Hallmark. Now ,half a year later , its March 2019 and in 2 weeks we will be driving to Colorado to pick up the new camper ….. exciting !Here we are in the Hallmark factory in Fort Lupton , Colorado. 



Here we are in the Hallmark factory in Fort Lupton , Colorado.
Load it up … and off we go !

In Nevada, lots of free camping in the Valley of Fire in the
Mojave Desert .

2 thoughts on “Finding Esmeralda”

  1. Hey. I’m in pasaj-cap at atitlan lake. It looks like I’m following your path here in Guatemala. Just wanted to know where are you. I really consider your comment in ioverlander since we have a Truck Camper too.. I hope yo meet you some day

    1. Hi Martin , have fun at lake Atitlan .,..we already miss it. We are back in Southern California on the way home .

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