Juan had been researching camping rigs all year, and we decided the rig that would offer us the most mobility and storage space was a truck camper on a flatbed truck. So, after our house closed on December 31st, we had to hustle to get packed and moved, and we also had to find and purchase our new “home on the road.”
The first week of January, we drove five hours to Billings, Montana, and bought a 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 flatbed truck with an Allison transmission and Cummins engine. Juan had spoken with the owner at great lengths before we drove out to buy it. Even though we had not yet seen the Dodge, we felt good about it because the Allison/Cummins combo is touted as being the best for hauling a load, and the previous owner was a heavy-hauling helicopter mechanic and seemed to have been conscientious about caring for the truck.
Next we drove down to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to purchase a 2012 Hallmark popup truck camper. We had originally intended to buy either a Northern Lite or Bigfoot truck camper - both hard-shell, four-season rigs - but at the last minute, Juan discovered Hallmark popups. They are high quality, durable four-season truck campers that offer a lower profile than a hard-shell truck camper. Our flatbed stood 18” higher than a normal truck bed, so having a lower profile would make driving easier.
Right off the bat, we had difficulties. The very first day the steering gear box went out on the Dodge – luckily, it went out when we were in a parking lot and not passing a semi-truck at 75 mph. We had to wait two days for our truck to be repaired and then another two days for the 65mph Cheyenne winds to die down so we could safely load the camper.
Juan and I drove back to Seeley Lake through Wyoming highway wind closures and Montana snowstorms and began the exciting and challenging process of squeezing ourselves into our tiny home.