Joseph Wightman and his family had planned a holiday campout in their fixer-upper travel-trailer, but the road trip to Cape Disappointment was canceled after the trailer was stolen Monday night from in front of their Vancouver Heights home.
“We had reserved a campsite for Thanksgiving, a holiday that has felt impossible to imagine celebrating this year. And to top it off, we were hiding our daughter’s Christmas present in there,” Wightman said.
The Hot Wheels dinosaur garage, which was hidden under a blanket, was too large to hide in the house for a couple of months. Now, it’s gone, along with the trailer and its other upgrades, including a brand-new microwave and minifridge.
The stolen trailer is a 1972 dual-axle, 19-foot Timberline. Wightman said the vehicle was “still ratty around the edges,” but it represented dreams that his family shared for the future.
According to information provided to Vancouver police, the trailer was stolen sometime between 9 p.m. Monday and 2:30 p.m. Tuesday from Wightman’s driveway. The family didn’t hear any noises during the night, and the dogs didn’t bark. A neighbor didn’t see or hear anything either, according to the police report.
The trailer was gifted to the family by Wightman’s father-in-law, who lives in Tacoma. They’d been in the market, and the family member mulled selling them the Timberline, but after they all did a walk-around of the decades-old vehicle, the father-in-law handed it over for free.
That makes the vehicle all the more unique and recognizable, something the Wightman family is hoping leads to its retrieval.
According to the police report, the trailer is white with a thick green stripe around the body. It has a tow ball hitch painted in a rust-colored primer. On the passenger side, the rear-end of the vehicle has a basketball-sized dent in the metal. There are square, aftermarket tail lights mounted to the back of the trailer with wires hanging down from them. The trim pieces on both sides near the front end are missing. And there is black Gorilla Tape in several areas holding things together.
Vancouver police Lt. Kathy McNicholas said that as of Thursday, there had been no sightings of the trailer.
Despite its shortcomings, fixing up the trailer together and making short trips to state parks has been one of the ways that the family has passed time in quarantine.
“Each new repair is a small victory,” Wightman said.
The original plan was to have the trailer repaired by the end of summer, but come March, the pandemic altered the family’s seasonal plans. So, the trailer became a respite during quarantine. Wightman replaced cedar paneling on the inside; his wife tore out some of the interior seating, hosed it down and restitched the coverings back into place. It helped the family stay busy while trapped at home, the owner said.
The family is not able to take a trip to Cape Disappointment, but they may go camping closer to home. They mulled visiting the grandparents in Tacoma but decided against it because those family members are at high risk for getting sick from COVID-19.
“So, our big trips have been called off. Even if we were to get it back soon, we’d have to make sure it was safe and sanitary before using it. We’re really just hoping to get it back,” Wightman said.