Taking an off-grid break during the pandemic
The Good Life|January 2021
As the owners of Ravenous Catering located in Monitor, Valarie Gilmour and Dave Toal are usually very busy people, but in 2020 the lack of weddings and large gatherings gave them time to indulge their wanderlust.
Dominick Bonny

The couple has always loved traveling together, and frequently talk about retiring someday to spend at least half the year in Costa Rica.

But with a pandemic raging and international travel a harrowing prospect they, like many Americans, looked to domestic travel. So they purchased a recreational vehicle and hit the open road, but not in a conventional way.

“We did not want to stay at RV parks or crowded campgrounds. Anywhere where there’s a bunch of people,” Dave said. “That led us to exploring different styles of off-road RVs designed to go anywhere your truck can go.”

They had been doing their research for months, even years, before the COVID-19 pandemic and knew what they wanted. They found that Australian companies make the best off-road travel trailers, Dave said, but the waiting lists are long for one of those brand new. They were looking at a six-month wait for a new trailer, at least.

So when Val came across a gently-used Black Series HQ15 Caravan trailer for sale in Illinois, they jumped at the opportunity.

A retired Illinois state trooper put the 15-foot camp trailer for sale because he and his wife decided it was too small for them and their grandkids. They had only used it three times, Val said. So they put down a deposit and prepared to hit the road.

The Black Series HQ15 is a 15- foot rugged yet luxurious travel trailer with custom designed and engineered trailing arms underneath that allows each wheel to move independently. Coupled with the custom suspension and high clearance, it can cope with some pretty rough off-road terrain.

It has both an interior and exterior kitchen, a queen-sized bed as well as a convertible dining table bed, and a full-sized dry bathroom. Full-sized bathrooms in travel trailers are hard to come by.

“It’s like the coolest thing we’ve ever owned in our life,” Dave said.

The whole trip took 33 days, starting on Oct. 12, but they made it from Cashmere to Pocahontas, Illinois, in just four. The route back home would be more circuitous, however.

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