After a theft, a couple receives an act of kindness

By Brian Soergel | Sep 05, 2015
Photo by: Brian Soergel Jerud Crandall and Ching Fu, with dog Tybee, are living in their RV in Mill Creek while fixing their truck and searching for a stolen bike and dog trailer.

In the space of a week, an adventurous couple on a cross-country, off-the-grid trip discovered that there are certainly bad people in this world. But, just maybe, the bad can be lessened by an act of kindness.

Ching Fu, 33, and her partner, Jerud Crandall, 36, left Asheville, N.C., in March for an extended road trip living in a converted RV trailed by a Ford truck, powered by waste vegetable oil. The RV is powered solely on solar panels bolted to its roof.

Fu has an aunt and uncle in Mill Creek, so she and Crandell parked the truck and trailer in a parking lot to visit family, which also included Fu’s mother, who used to live in Mill Creek and was in town.

On Aug. 24, after returning from a bike ride, Fu and Crandell were stunned to discover another of Fu’s bikes and their beloved dog trailer – in which she pulled her 12-year-old, arthritic dog, Tybee – were gone.

Stolen in broad daylight

Fu is hoping someone knows something about the stolen items or will let her know if they are spotted. She contacted the Mill Creek Police Department, and is offering a reward.

As of Sept. 3, the bike and trailer hadn’t been found. But this story, originally fated to end on that sad note, has a happy ending, of sorts.

Since the theft, Fu has scoured Craigslist, eBay, and OfferUp daily in case either of the two were posted for sale. Late last week, she came across trailer made by Croozer that was the same exact model as hers.

Although Croozer no longer make Fu’s trailer, she knew immediately it wasn’t hers, due to several noticeable characteristics. But the price was good (new ones can cost up to $500), and Fu figured she would buy it for Tybee while searching for the original.

After contacting the seller, Fu – remarkably – received a reply of: “Also, this is a long shot, but did you ever live in Asheville?” It was signed “Andy.” Turns out Fu and Andy knew each other and Andy, finding out that Fu’s trailer had been stole, gave it to her for free.

“This simple act of kindness means so much to me,” Fu said. “I was and still am slowly walking out of the gray place I’ve been stuck in the past week or so. The way things unraveled, the randomness of the whole situation just boggles my mind.

“But it makes me so happy and appreciative of the people that I do know in my life – whether or not we talk everyday or are close to one another. I’m just glad to be reminded that there are still a lot more kind-hearted people in the world than there are thieves.”

A mission for sustainability

Fu and Crandall met in Asheville – she’s from New York City and he’s from Raleigh, N.C. – were they both held regular jobs. Fu worked for REI, and Crandall worked as a design engineer.

In 2010, after they’d been together a year, the couple decided they loved the outdoors too much to stay inside.

Why are we just spending our two-week vacations doing this? Fu wondered. Why don’t we figure out a way we can make this our lifestyle instead of just being going hiking and mountain biking on weekends?

“We also decided that because we’re also very environmentally conscious, we didn’t want to live on the road and have a huge carbon footprint,” Fu said last week in her RV, Jerud and Tybee by her side.

“And we didn’t enjoy the idea of driving all over the country burning up diesel and having the RV plugged into the grid to get power.”

They bought a 1971 Ford truck and placed an extra tank in it to hold waste vegetable oil, which they get from restaurants throwing out what they don’t need. It sounds like something out of “Back to the Future,” but Crandall said the truck’s able to get 10-11 miles per gallon on the mixture after being cleaned up and filtered.

“Diesel fuel is very similar to vegetable oil, chemically,” he said. Unfortunately, the truck is having transmission problems, and Crandall is looking to replace it.

The RV the couple trails was converted to be completely self-sufficient and not rely on propane and generator costs. “We also have a composting toilet inside the RV,” Fu said. “Our goal is to inform people that it is possible to live sustainably while living in an RV traveling around.”

The converted truck and trailer mean that the couple’s costs are low.

Because of that, they plan to stay on the road as long as they can, living on savings and seasonal jobs.

“We don’t want to be living on road with full-time jobs, so we’re not working on web design or other work where we’re constantly hunting the Internet,” Crandall said. “The reality is that the places we’ve enjoyed the most had nothing. No cell. No nothing.”

Fu and Crandall do update their Facebook page from their phones, and you can keep up with their adventures on Live Small | Ride Free (www.livesmallridefree.com).

They won’t stay in Mill Creek much longer, but do hope to return to pick up what was stolen from them, if they are ever recovered.

Said Fu: “I’m really attached to my bike and that trailer.”

The bike is a Novara Safari, a brown touring bike with silver fenders, silver bike rack, four water bottle cages, a black front wheel mud flap with a silver tree on it, and colored “spokey dokes” on the spokes of both wheels.

The Croozer dog trailer, attached to the bike, is a beige colored trailer with black repair tape on one of the top corners

If you have any information, you can call Fu at 325-283-1991. You can also call the Mill Creek Police at 425-745-4680.

 

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