Sandi Wheaton's photographic journey from Chicago to LA with a Jeep, an Aliner trailer and a bunch of cameras

the Triangle


Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I love this - a drive-in theater, still in operation, right next to a bunch of silos.

I love this - a drive-in theater, still in operation, right next to a bunch of silos.

I’m glad that the movie tonight was a horror film.  I can’t stand horror films, they’re like the only movies I refuse to watch.  If it was any other movie that I even remotely wanted to see, it would have been hard to resist the temptation to stick around for the night.  Who wouldn’t relish the idea of going to a drive-in along Route 66?  And I think the price was like $2 per person!!  (wonder if the triangle would cost an extra $2?)

Speaking of the triangle – or, “the shape” as my sister calls it – you can blame the rest of this post on Christina.  :)  She asked for a tour of the trailer, so here it is, for those curious about my shapely home.

The Shape and the Jeep, at Wal-Mart

The Shape and the Jeep, at Wal-Mart

This is a 1998 Aliner trailer.  My Jeep has such a short wheel base, it can’t tow a regular hard top trailer like a T@B, which was what I first wanted to get – it needs a low-profile pop-up design.  Originally, I was going to borrow my friend Carina’s tent trailer but at the very last minute, the thing sold after a long time of being on the market.  At first I was bummed but then I figured something else must be coming up that would be better.  Sure enough, I discovered Aliners.  Small enough and light enough to be towed by the Jeep, and I don’t have to unhitch it every time I put it up (a real pain when alone) – and it goes up in like a minute!  If you want to see how it goes up, there are videos posted online, just do a search – or you can watch the CBC piece on my website (also in an earlier post) – they did a sped-up version of me putting the trailer up at the beginning of the clip.

pictured here, clockwise from left, are: sink - stovetop - fridge - furnace

pictured here, clockwise from left, are: sink - stovetop - fridge - furnace

I bought the trailer specifically for this trip, and I found that they are a little hard to come by, used.  I found this one in Milton, ON (near Toronto).  I would have loved to have bought one new but they’re just too spendy for me.

This unit has everything I need – except a bathroom.  That’s what truck stops and campgrounds are for.  There is a small  fridge, sink, 3-burner stove, and a furnace for when it gets too cold, like tonight.  There is no A/C and I’m a bit concerned about that for the desert stretches of the Route, but I found a really cool camping fan by Coleman that is battery-operated and fits exactly in the square space of one of the overhead vents, so hopefully that will move enough air around once it gets too hot.

air mattress, pillows, comforter and air mattress on top of cushions, which are on top of a table

air mattress, pillows, and comforter on top of cushions, which are on top of a table

The thing is packed up pretty solid with stuff – this will surprise no one who knows me.  In the bench on one side under the bed are the battery, water tank, water pump, and all that jazz.  The other side I filled with prints, portfolios, cards, and other assorted photo gear (I am hoping to be able to sell/trade some work at some point on this trip).  Under the bed there’s clothes, shoes, microwave oven, glasses and dishes…  It took some time but I found some clear storage bins that fit exACTly below the table that the bed sits on – so the bins don’t slide around and they actually provide support for the bed when I am lying or sitting on it.  I’ve got an air mattress on top of the cushions because the cushions really aren’t very comfortable.

table top comes out and lies flat - storage under benches

table top comes out and lies flat - storage under benches

The front is where the table is – that’s where I’m sitting right now.  There are storage compartments under those seats as well.  In those I have food, pots and pans, books, maps, blank media, tools, hoses for filling the fresh water tank, jacks and chock blocks, AK-47s, etc.

The laptop and photo equipment I move from Jeep to trailer and back again all the time.  This is a bit of a pain, as the place gets really cluttered when I am in it with gear.  I find I spend a lot of time moving stuff from one side to the other, to get under seats to get at stuff.  Such is trailer life!  It’s sort of cool to have everything you need with you – I love that about this setup.

I’ll close with an observation I had back when driving into Normal, IL.  For the most part, the ride in this state takes me through cornfields, industrial areas, and cute farmy towns.  I was musing about the name “Normal” as I followed my Route 66 directions into town – and suddenly found myself in the middle of a new suburban subdivision.  All of the houses were new, the lawns were new, houses were stacked close together, and everything looked the same (much like my own characterless neighborhood back home).  It was the most surreal thing I have seen along Route 66 so far.  It was so… Normal.

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