Conversations in my mind

....and occasional leakage into print


California, USA
February 26
I had a blog on 360 (yahoo)..then moved to Multiply when they crashed and burned. Now am dabbling in Facebook. None of it is really what I want. Still working on a Bio--work in progress. Me, not the description.

Satori1's Links

APRIL 25, 2011 1:29AM

Camping by Trial and Error

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Here in California Spring is just making up its mind what it wants to be.  Today it is sunny..but windy and cold. This afternoon later, it will heat up, but the night will be cold again. This is when I get the wanderlust.  I want to be gone. I want to get lost in the desert, or stare into a  lake, or explore a canyon. I don’t want anyone telling me  when I have to get there or when I ought to leave.  I want to go camping!2009SierrasC 028430

Way back in my younger days, when the idea of camping was just new in its appeal, I had no idea what I really needed. I camped with friends who taught me the ropes, but my own needs took over the planning for my future "perfect rig".


I started out with a quarter ton Mazda king cab truck in 1984. I bought a tent and a sleeping bag, then put a shell on the back. I thought I was all ready to go!

mazda camping1987

That arrangement actually met my needs for a while, but I was trying to keep up with people who had large RV's and towed cars. I discovered that it was all fun and carefree until I hit a streak of rainy weather and was either stuck in the truck, or folding up a soggy tent in pouring rain--to find it mildewing by the time I got it home- or imposing on my friends in their rig while my dogs were stuck in the truck.

I also discovered that unless one is young and very agile, crawling in and out of a closed camper shell is not appealing.  And unless you are sitting around a campfire until you are actually ready to SLEEP, it isn't easy to find a comfortable reading position in a space with 10 inches of head room.

Really, the tent serves better for that. Unless it's raining a lot.MorningHavasub


The point is, every style of camping has its own issues. The truck and tent were great as long as I could plan for the weather. But I knew I'd be moving on up before too long. I started making a list of the perfect features I'd need after I moved up to the mini-Winnie on the quarter ton Toyota chassis with the v-4 engine. And no generator. That was a really dumb purchase. I camp in the mountains! Occasionally I go to the ocean, but not usually.  Ok, so that got traded for a v-6 with a generator.  Better.


But now the issues revolved around longer trips and side and day trips. In order to go exploring for the day, wherever I was, I had to stow everything, unplug and disengage anything tethering me, and try to follow my friends on the backroads and byways. I apparently just was not "getting it".  My needs were apparently not clear. I was a little limited by finances, but I was spending a fortune on gas doing this, and not really having any fun.


So, moving on, I upgraded to a 24 foot C class Tioga, bought a car I could tow, and took the plunge. Camping World hooked me up--literally--to the world of towing, and off I went.


I was getting a little older, and at this point, my family history of arthritis was rearing its head.

I was in that rig for several years, but after my knee locked on the ladder leading down from the overhead bed (for the third time) and I fell to the floor, I began searching in earnest for a better arrangement. All I knew was --I needed a bed downstairs!


Early in the year 2000 I attended an RV show in LA. That's where I fell in love. The object of my affection~~no..obsession...was a 26 foot class A, v-10 with two slideouts, hydraulic levelers, Onan generator, two tv's, computer table...oh it goes on. I moved heaven and earth and bank accounts to buy this thing.

.The RV park


It was a Georgie Boy--made by Coachmen--called The Suite. Now--Coachmen--and Georgie Boy--has been building RV's for years. This was the smallest rig they ever put slides in. These days, everything has a slide, but it was pretty unique back then. With all their experience, you would think they could get it right.

All I added to my new toy was solar panels..but that was much later. I drove it out of the lot and took it on a shakedown run to the nearby mountains. Tip....never get far out of civilization on a shakedown.

The first thing that should have tipped me off..the alarm for the levelers went off before I'd gone 2 miles. I called the dealer. They suggested I lower then raise them. Ok. That worked--for a minute.


Next--once in camp- the refrigerator conked out. Then the electric system blew a fuse when I put the slides out. THEN the bedroom slide cross arm broke and I couldn't get the slide IN.


I dealt with all this, thought I was good to go--but on a subsequent trip my generator broke first time I used it. They replaced it. By the end of the first year, EVERY system had been worked on or replaced. Then 2 days before the warranty was up, as I left a campground in Santa Fe, suddenly the oil indicator started swinging wildly and..yes..the engine blew. No one ever DID figure out why.


By this time I was shell shocked and constantly paranoid. I had that rig for almost 8 years, and the last several years it performed without problem--but only after I practically rebuilt it.


When gas prices soared, and I was travelling for weeks at a time, I began to re-think the wisdom of having two vehicles with engines, registrations, smog checks..and gas tanks.


I went over my options, figured out  where I could compromise, and decided to try a truck and trailer. Granted, it is much less convenient to have to hitch up the two, back the trailer into tight spaces, manually level..but overall, for right now, I'm enjoying this. This particular little rig has living room slide and actually has more inside storage and sleeping space than the big rig did. I put solar panels on--haven't gotten a generator yet--and so far I am getting along very well with it.

.funfinder ff3

  (Pictures are of my 18 foot Funfinder..)


The lessons I've learned over the years have been pretty valuable. The most important..figure out what you really NEED before you buy the pretty shiny thing, or the inconvenient thing, or the thing that is well above your technical ability to drive or maintain.

I am making plans now for my next three trips..all before the end of June. Then it is the heat of summer..and school  is out. I do NOT camp where there are children or buzzing insects attracted to my sweating person!

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camping, rv, trailer, tent

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Good tales! I have a Glendale Class C of 1989 vintage that I spent a year in while travelling Canada from Toronto to the east coast then to Vancouver, then up north, (The full length of the Dempster!) inside the arctic circle to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, and back to Prince Edward Island off the east coast again. A journey of some 72,000km (40,000 miles). What a tour!!

The best part was meeting so many folks who live "on the road"; the full-time RVers. I expect you know that the nice folks at WalMart allow RV parking for free in all their parking lots across North America. You can meet people from EVERYWHERE in a WalMart parking lot!! I'm going out west for a while this summer too!

Ahhh, tiz a glorious way to live!

I didn't figure you for a serious camper for some reason. I know not why. I always wanted to retire, buy an RV and travel. Unfortunately, my body no longer lets me travel. So, keep camping and I will live vicariously through you. Great Post with lots I didn't know!
I never camped in my life and don't know if it would be my thing, but you make it sound fun, Satori. It must be one of the best ways of travel and seeing the country as well at your own pace and planning.
Camping is best done in a location and edifice with a 4 star rating, running water, and room service. All of my camping experiences were in rain, hence my disdain.
@ Sky--the longest trip I ever took is across the country and back, but I have done that three times by three different routes , never the same one coming or going. Of course they all usually end with coming home via I-10, but there are a lot of ways in and out of here. I have never traveled much in Canada except for the three times I went helihiking in the Bugaboos and the Bobbie Burns. If gas prices ever go any lower I might venture further out again!
@ Scanner...cuz I'm a girl?? ☺ I have four tents and a Silverado truck--and my favorite places have no hookups and you carry everything in and out including water. But as I've gotten older..and as I have made friends who are older--more creature comforts are sometimes welcome. I am sorry you can't get out there any more, Scanner. It's like oxygen for me.
Fusun, there are so many ways to camp--I'm sure we could find a style that would work for you.!
OE: bummer. I suppose I would be a little put off as well. Yes, I have many friends who regard having to go to a different floor for ice as "roughing it". But I still love them.
So where is the next trip?
@ P--see the spot the truck and Trailer areparked in? That's up in Santa Paula, Ventura County--just a local park. Now a KOA, but it used to be private. That is where I am heading this Thursday for 4 days. After that..the Eastern Sierras in Mid June, up by Twin Lakes, June Lake, and MAYBE affter that joining my cousin for a trip to Montana. Hoping.
Sounds like a huge undertaking. Hoping the gas prices go down!!!
@P..that will definitely be a factor, although the Montana trip is less of a "just camping" trip and more of a personal business to take care of trip--with some fishing thrown in!
I saw you post this as I went to bed last night and could not see another word.
I knew it had to do with camping and I was right.
I swear you are the only camper I know.
Give me the fresh towels and the mints on the pillow.
Honestly I admire you but could not do this myself.
rated with hugs
That's OK, Linda. It's not for everyone. Thank God, or it would be pretty crowded out there!!
A fun finder!! What a good report of your camping evolution. You are a brave lady. We tent camped for a couple years and loved it but now are too attached to our little trailer here in the park. It is like permanent camping. ha. Thanks for the fun.
@ Zanelle...the name "funfinder" is rather appropriate! Of course when I got it I had three dogs..down to 2 now..and they are very good at being out of my way in there. Pretty small, but works well for me. The only "hitch" (if you will) is going to come when I can no longer lift the 40 pound ball hitch and put it on my truck, and can no longer handle the hooking up of the stabilizer and sway bars. All very heavy work. Then I will have to decide to move to something else--a small 5th wheel if gas is still a factor, or another RV and tow vehicle if things let up. I am sort of predicting the 5th wheel.
I always thought that when I retired I'd buy an RV and just travel. But when the time came, I realized I liked my little house and big garden - and letting pilots, train engineers, bus drivers and on some trips my frequent travelling companion who likes to drive.

Used to camp with a tent, but nowadays I only go to campgrounds with cabins. So decadent.

Wow, Pixie, too much! least you don't insist on a 5 star hotel!! And..umm...Pixie????
we are camping with the kids in The Black Hills this July...glad to have found another nature lover on here...I also don't like sleeping directly on the ground any more!
I am such a city slicker as well as a snivelling coward, so my husband and I purchased a cottage. Love it. I enjoy watching the critters and (most of the time) the quiet.