48 hours, 2 border crossings and 1600 kms round trip. But let's start at the beginning…
Last summer, I fell in love with a 1963 old blue Dodge Travco motorhome here in Calgary. However, no matter what I tried (and I tried a LOT), the owner would not sell her to me. So I started trolling the internet for other motorhomes. I finally came across my motorhome (here after called Myrtle) in Bozeman, Montana in late fall 2007, on craigslist. She is a 1964 Dodge Motorhome (the 2nd year they were made, and before they were called Travco) and she is in better shape than the first one I saw in Calgary. She has a 318 poly motor and a push button transmission. I spent months keeping in contact with the owner ensuring him I really was going to by her as soon as all the paperwork was in order and the snow melted.
So let's talk paperwork. The good news is that a vehicle that is over 15 years old is easier to import from the USA than a newer one. So I collected the following paper work: bill of sale, title, insurance and an info sheet. You fax that all to the sweetgrass USA border crossing 72 hours in advance. As their answering machine says, they do not take messages, they do not call you back, unless there is something wrong. So you sweat wondering if it actually got through.
Anyways back to the present time. We left Thursday March 20, 2008 after a full day of work and made it all the way to Great Falls Montana. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which I HIGHLY recommend; super soft beds, nice linens, free wifi, free cookies, free hot breakfast! So after Great Falls we stopped in at a Target in Helena and picked up walkie talkies (we could not find one of ours at home) for the trip back. I was scoping out the elusive new toilet bowl cleaner that Method has but it was not in stock. (If you have not hear of my adoration for Method yet see them here: http://www.methodhome.com/ - life changing I say!)
Then we went down to Bozeman and met with the current owner, a young guy who obviously was also very enchanted with the lovely old girl. He is excited to see what we do with her! We bought her with a International money order (keep the receipt, you need it later!) and drove her to Helena and stayed the night in another fabulous Holiday Inn for the extra special rate of $85/night!
Then this morning we started the home stretch. The walkie talkies are great. However the old fridge (which Myrtle was now referred to as) was quite noisy. So I figured out a system, as Jason was following me I would turn on my signal and then he would know I was trying to reach him. They came in handy. It allowed us to comment on the crazy tumbleweed storm and both freak out at the SUPER realistic metal moose that some jackass thought would be funny to put on the edge of his field and send the rest of us city folk in a panic thinking it would soon bolt across the road.
Myrtle aka Big Blue Fridge as she was subzero with NO heat (poor Jason) did awesome on the trip home. No mechanical probs we just had to pull over for a windshield wiper. She is not even that bad on gas for her size. And all the Americans we met along the way were just great.
So then we hit the border. We realized as we sat in the line that we should have pulled over to see USA customs first. So I booted upstairs and saw them. All it took was on stamp on the Title and I was on my way. Then we went through the Canadian border and we completed one form and paid $250 in GST and left. Some line ups but pretty dang easy!
So now she is parked on Jason's parents acreage (family rocks). She is a little rough around the edges, has some leaks in the roof and windows and some nasty shag rug but all in all she is pretty good for 44 years old. She has all her original lamp shades except for one. She has awesome wood veneer walls, a cute stove/oven, fridge, double bed, 2 doors, swivel captain chairs up front, a bench and a table that will turn into a bed. Now don't get me wrong... she needs some love, but it is going to be a kick ass project. Now I have somewhere for my vintage mountain scene curtains, turquoise melmac dishes, my original travco dealer brochures from Ebay and my retractable laundry line. Let the reno's begin!
Check out some history and old photos of Travco motorhomes here: Jay Cronen's Travco Site
and check out the sweet interior here (now Myrtle is a little rougher then this, to say the least): Original Brochure of the Travco Interior
Another very comprehensive site: Travco Motorhomes