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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: January 23, 2019

Good Bye, Tin Hilton

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

Our first home was on Highway 180, right on the Menominee River. We had a canoe but when our second child came along, adventures on the river required something a little bigger. So we bought an older and somewhat tired pontoon boat and spent many happy family hours, dogs and all, cruising up and down the river. Often we'd have extra kids along " a few inner tubes, fishing poles and sometimes a kid's wading pool filled up with river water in the middle of the boat for the littlest ones to splash in. We occasionally trailered to Lake Noquebay for a change of pace but we really never tired of our trips on the river. It was a sad day when "Loony Tooner" sold before we left Wisconsin for Oklahoma. Hopefully another family is still enjoying her " she may not have been a fancy boat, but she was a platform for all kinds of fun.

So once we were settled in Oklahoma, we started looking for a family activity to replace boating. We knew we'd be taking our two elementary school age kids back and forth to visit our family in Wisconsin a lot, so we started looking at campers. In 2002, we bought a trailer. Since that time we've "pulled" to Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and countess trips to Wisconsin. Of course weekends around Oklahoma were frequent too, and our kids often brought along friends. One of the features our trailer did not have which I would have wished for in those days would have been tanks with exterior sprayers for bug repellant and sunblock. Like the pontoon boat was on the river, our trailer was never the fanciest in the park, but we made a lot of wonderful memories.

After a few trips in the trailer, I decided to buy a "journal" to keep track of our travels. Each trip was carefully documented " where we stayed, site numbers, adventures, storms, bad times and crazy antics.

I treasure that journal now, because after 18 years and countless miles, the trailer we called "The Tin Hilton" will be finding herself a new home. Everything still works, and we even used her as our home for 17 weeks this summer. But now that our kids are in Seattle and Tulsa, long trips are in our future plans " and a smaller, lighter trailer makes more sense for the two of us (and our dogs) for these longer journeys. (One of my sisters greatly enjoyed the thought that after 17 weeks in our old camper this summer, with two big dogs and four cats, our goal was to get a smaller trailer.)

I spent a day unloading the Tin Hilton before her final trip to the dealer with us Monday. Out of countless nooks and crannies came gear, and memories. The time a Road Runner landed on the roof of our trailer, causing the dogs to lose their collective minds. The snowstorm in New Mexico's mountain pass. The week on Galveston Beach, with countless "cannon ball" jellyfish washing ashore. Of course, the unforgettable summer living in the trailer. The trips where we traveled to watch the Packers, using the trailer as our portable apartment. The countless kind, weird or interesting people we met. The sad day I realized our old dog Scooter could no longer make it up the camper stairs herself " the recognition that her days with us were coming to an end.

And I will never forget the first trips with the woman who became my son's wife; and the man who became our daughter's husband. If you can tolerate our family after a trip jammed into less than 200 square feet, you are some kind of a hero to me, and you have the right stuff (and raw courage) to join the Martin/Thibodeau family.

We even used the trailer as an extra guest room in Oklahoma, where having their own "space" and privacy had some of our overnight guests preferring her tin walls to a guest room in the house.

The Tin Hilton won't be the fanciest trailer in the park for her next owner, but like Looney Tooner before her, she's an awesome platform for fun.

I will treasure the journal of our 18 years of travels in the Tin Hilton, and will buy a new logbook for her replacement. I left a note of welcome on the white board in our old trailer for her new people, but I have a wish for the trailer itself, too. I don't care if anyone thinks it is crazy I commune with inanimate objects " she's an old and valued friend.

Happy trails, Tin Hilton.

Song stuck in my head this week: Like a billion plus other people in languages that cross all barriers, walls and oceans: "Baby Shark." I was warned not to listen to it " but I am charmed, not really by the song but by something fun and innocent uniting people of all ages across the globe. This world can use a lot more "Baby Shark."

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.




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