Now that we had made The Decision, we got serious. Double extra serious, man. My (brief) time at home was spent poring over Ebay, Craigslist and local classified ads. An early contender was a Shasta Airflyte being sold on Ebay, located in Utah. It had ‘pretty much’ all the required furnishings, and seemed to be in okay shape. Not good, just ‘okay’. We looked at the realities of a round trip to Utah from Lafayette, LA: three days reasonable driving each way, condition of the tires and rolling gear basically unknown and the price was on the upper end of what we wanted to pay. Plus travel expenses both ways, and the fact that having only seven days off, with six days travel time meant if we encountered an “OOPS” on the road, it left me with basically no time margin before I had to be back at work. We agonized about bidding on it, and seeing how rapidly similar units were being snapped up, the creeping doubt arose that if ‘you don’t get this one, you won’t EVER see another one for sale’. In the end we decided to let this one pass but we watched the auction closely. It sold for more than we would have paid, to a family from California, who obviously were MUCH closer to it anyway. About this time we stumbled upon an online forum called the Vintage Shasta Trailer Forum, and became members. We suddenly could find answers to all the questions burning in our canned ham addled brains! Reading about the things to anticipate and to take with you when going to look at a vintage trailer, the steps and obstacles to getting a trailer home safely, why you should NEVER NEVER buy a trailer without a title…so much to learn. We learned that a lot of people rush headlong into buying a vintage trailer, not owning a suitable tow vehicle to pull it. (Who knew) We had a 2006 Ford F 150 Supercrew with factory tow package, so we were good to go on that issue.
By now winter had turned into spring (2013) and while I was offshore Melinda found a listing from a guy in Des Moines, Iowa, for a 1959 Shasta Deluxe. She exchanged several emails and learned that the trailer was in fair shape, the seller actually owned several Shastas and was selling the Deluxe as it was the biggest one. Now, the Shasta Deluxe is a 19 foot camper, with toilet, shower, room to sleep four adults and two kids, closet space, heater…the whole smash. This was The One! Over a period of a couple of weeks, she collected information and talked to the seller on the phone, and eventually made a verbal offer which was accepted by the seller. I was scheduled to come home on a Thursday, and we would leave on Friday to go get the trailer. Or so we thought. On the Sunday before I came home, Melinda got an email from the owner saying that he could not sell us the trailer because he had “…promised his daughter that he would keep it”. Verbal and email contract be damned, he was just crawfishing on us (a colorful Cajun phrase meaning to weasel out of an agreement). Needless to say we were both really, REALLY angry at the sellers lack of integrity. Melinda, that same night, got back online to search for another likely candidate. And lo and behold, she found one. She found a posting on a hot rod webpage, listing a 1960 Deluxe, located in St Paul, MN. She fired off an email to the owner, who responded back almost immediately, and she learned that it was a indeed a Deluxe, in original condition, and that the seller had owned it for a few years, had removed the skins and replaced all the rot and the roof bracing because it had been used as a hunter’s cabin in Wisconsin and snow load had cracked the roof ribs. The seller was a hot rodder and had just bought a teardrop to pull behind a 32 Ford coupe and the Deluxe was simply too big for his needs. Some photos were sent and it looked good to us. We inquired about tires and bearings and he repacked the bearings for us, we called a local tire shop and paid for a new set of tires which he then had mounted and installed on the trailer, so the rolling gear was good to go. By Thursday the trailer was ready for us and all we had to do was to drive to St. Paul to pick it up!