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1971 Airstream
Photo credit: —Kobe Jane

Trailer life

~Evan Belknap

It’s none of your business, but I recently bought a ratty 1971 Airstream and planted it in my parent’s backyard in Placitas. My girlfriend and I have ripped out the trailer’s innards—the nasty walls, the eight-track player, the ancient spider web of gas pipes, and old revolutionary appliances. We raked out the packrat nest and filled the holes in the ceiling with caulk so it would stop leaking in the rain. We screwed the metal panel on the bottom of the thing back to the frame. We cleaned it, put in new floors, and painted the interior chilled mint. It looks pretty good now, and we’re living in it.

Last night, we were inside watching a show with the spotty Internet we get from my parents’ distant router, and a thumping began—right under the floorboards, rhythmic and loud and terrible. I got out of bed and stomped back, but it continued on. I got a headlamp, went outside, and tucked my head down under, trying to pinpoint the noise. Thump, thump, thump. There was a tiny crack where our Airstream is coming apart on the bottom (that I have yet to fix) and I shone my light inside, putting my eye right up against the crack.

And there he was—a bulgy-eyed, pointy-nosed packrat, staring right at me, stomping his little foot on the metal like a metronome. I closed the slot back up, quite concerned.

“What is it?” asked Kobe.

“It’s a rat,” I said.

“Oh, no.”

“Yeah...” I said. “I’m gonna go get a gun.”


I went next door to my parent’s house and borrowed their bb gun and some protective goggles (because safety first), and I pumped that thing up to ten as I walked back to the Airstream. Our wonderful little trailer’s windows glowed under the starlit sky.

“Kobe, I need you to hold the light.”

“If you shoot me...”

“Okay, I’ll do it.”

I inched open the metal slat, and there he was, still, eyes glowing green in my headlight, tapping his foot, about four feet away. The barrel of the gun held the slat open, and I aimed it the best I could. How could we be expected to live with such a percussive rodent?

I turned off the flashlight, took a deep breath, and pulled the trigger. Footsteps banged back and forth in the tiny space and then the noise stopped completely.

A coyote howled in the distance. A cool wind rustled the junipers. Sweet silence in the desert.

I woke up today and assessed all the potential packrat entryways on our new house. There are still a lot of them to fix.

Next up on the house adventure is moving it to an even more perfect place, continuing to rat-proof, building a countertop, buying a solar panel for the mini-fridge and a couple lights, and putting together some kind of shade-structure living room out front. I’ll lean a climbing wall up against that roof, get a weatherproof couch, and hang plants everywhere. In a couple more hard-working months, it should be a good place to be.

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