I've camped almost all my life - Fiberglass RV



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Old 04-10-2018, 10:58 AM   #1
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I've camped almost all my life

I’ve pretty much camped all my life.

As part of a relatively big family, camping was affordable. We arrived at a camp site like we were a swarm of locusts. We pulled into the site, Dad’s homemade plywood car top carrier flipped open on one side and the first thing off was the tent and we swarmed over the canvass slab-sided tent with enough family to hold up all the tents poles at once while Dad ran around and pounded in all the guy lines. Later that night Dad would play the harmonica at the campfire but all he knew was Christmas carols (and Home on the Range) but even so, the site filled up with neighboring kids because every kid knew the words. Carols in July!

Next up came the Army in the late ‘60s. Perhaps needless to say, a fair amount of camping there. In my case, in New Jersey, Oklahoma and then Germany. The Army’s way was everybody had half a tent so you’d have to buddy-up for the night and snap two halves together. And powdered eggs for breakfast and S.O.S for dinner. The word was we were also eating our way through excess Korean war rations, one meal a week. These weren’t MREs. MRE’s would be gourmet dining. Personally, I believed the rumor.

After the Army, lots of backpacking mostly along the Long Trail and the Green Mountain Trail in Vermont. Kelty external frame backpack, Svea stove, 2-man tent etc. That jet motor roar of the Svea at full tilt really takes me back even now. I still have all of that stuff. While I’m not clear I could even lift it now, I carried a 50 lb pack (we later weighed it since there was some debate…) up Tuckerman’s Ravine at Mount Washington. We were snowed-in for about half a day at Lake of the Clouds hut, in August. That’s August as in the summertime, what’s it doing snowing in August? They wouldn’t let us leave until there was more visibility.

Then I migrated to camping out of the trunk of the car. Little bigger tent (3 man), much bigger stove (Coleman 2 burner) and whatever I could pack into the back of an Escort.

I was camping with my sister and nieces in a NY state park somewhere near Niagara Falls and woke up to everything covered in hoar frost. Pretty neat looking (only time I’ve ever experienced it but I recognized it immediately) but soon, as I was pumping (squeak-squeak) the fuel tank of the Coleman stove while standing with wet shoes (from the frost), I decided that I dearly loved camping but I was pretty much over wet shoes and socks.

Finally, the Casita. Way more social than the years of post-army camping and just as much fun. A little harder for me to get around these days but I’m camping along with 80 year old’s so I should have many more years of camping left if I’m lucky and I’m careful. And like that 50 pound pack all those years ago, I’m still carrying too much.

Everybody comes to camping somewhere different along the curve. As far as I’m concerned, all that really matters is that you get there eventually.

I’ve pretty much camped all my life. Lucky, really.

No real purpose to this post. I was thinking about my Dad (92) who’s struggling these days kinda far away and family camping set me off on a trip down memory lane… I hope everyone has mostly fond memories of their camping or is planning on making some.

Go now before some fruit loop decides we’re wasting gas or something and outlaws RVs of any sort.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:29 AM   #2
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Good post, Steve. Thanks for asking!

My family camped in a big, canvas tent. Four kids made it an affordable vacation. Here we are, ca. 1966, on Padre Island, near Corpus Christi.
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:00 PM   #3
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Stay strong Steve.
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Old 04-10-2018, 12:21 PM   #4
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Good post, Steve. Thanks for asking!

My family camped in a big, canvas tent. Four kids made it an affordable vacation. Here we are, ca. 1966, on Padre Island, near Corpus Christi.
This brought back good memories of going with my dad, mom and two brothers to get our first camping gear. It was the early seventies and we went to get a Eureka! canvas cabin tent to hold the whole family. We drove to Freeport, Maine to the original LL Bean retail store. To this eight year old kid it smelled like the outdoors, adventure and timelessness. I was half expecting to find an Egyptian mummy or fully preserved mammoth in some dark corner. It was one of the most magical places I had been to as a kid with equipment everywhere, stuffed animals, fish, etc. One of my fondest memories from my childhood.

We used that cabin tent when my dad, who was in the AF Reserve, got TDY duty at Griffiths AFB and the family spent the summer camping by a lake.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:26 PM   #5
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Great post Steve,

My Dad and I went camping a number of times in Death Valley. Normally the whole family would go up to the Redwoods or some other spot, but sometimes the two of us would go to Death Valley. We hiked for hours up to the Keane Wonder Mine and the mill. Relics from the past everywhere and the old tram buckets still hanging from derics up the canyon. Giant machinery that seemed impossible to get up there so many years before. Those old minors were a determined, strong and creative bunch.

The desert, late at night, silent, endless, has it's own magic. We slept outdoors on the sand dunes. The moon silvery and blinding.

On the way in, droning along through the night, me half awake, my Pop stopped for no reason that I could think of. Just rolled to a nice easy stop and sat there, engine idling, looking out the window. Just when I was about to ask why, a train went by right in front of us and nearly jumped out of my skin. Never saw the tracks or anything. Yikes!

Sometimes we'd go rockhounding in our old '55 Dodge. Very low clearance, especially with a bunch of rocks in the trunk. Sooner or later, we'd knock the muffler off the pipe and it would get really loud. I loved that and was always waitng for it to happen. My Pop would get a frown on his face and mutter something.

Years later we took a car trip out through the desert and stopped near Amboy crater at an abandoned railroad station. Tracks gone, wood all dried and twisted, bleached by the endless sun. I've always marvelled how time stands still in the desert. A silent place where it's often impossible to determine how old things are. Evidence of errosion everywhere as it's a landscape formed by sudden flashfloods between long periods of silence. While wandering around near the station and looking at the evidence, I spotted a corner of a piece of paper sticking out of the sand. Gently pulling it out to examine, I found it was a letter discussing the building of that very station. A time capsule. A piece of paper that had outlasted the development of the station, the use of it and the decay of it. Once again, time and decay in the desert just don't make sense, but inspire lots of talk.

His favorite place in later life was a beautiful hot springs out there. He'd often go, and go by himself. His Cherokee pulling the old camp trailer we'd had for decades. The best way to go was never clear and had to be decided on when leaving because the passes are closed or partly closed during the colder seasons. Summer, the road into the Springs is often washed out from monsoon rains.

I spread his ashes there in a little trickle under a group of palms. Somtimes I go to visit the place again. I'll invariably wander over to the little flow from the water source and look for any remnants, recall his camp setup and how happy he was to be in the desert.
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Old 04-10-2018, 02:13 PM   #6
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steve l pretty much our story we went from a 32f 5th wheel to a 40f custom bus to a tent in all that time tenting was our pick of camping. We decided to take an hawaain cruise one time after the cruise another 2 weeks of tenting on ohau. we got our stuff off the ship to the rental car and off we went seeking a campground.


ooops no campgounds on the island we could find so what then. we were driving around with a lump in our throat wondering what to do I could see 200.00 a night hotel bills I don't think there are ever motels there!


as we riding along we spotted a bunch of tents right on the ocean we pulled over thinking we had spotted a campground. nope it was a homeless people campground they came flying down to us. they told us to please stay and they would take care of us and they did. woke up one morning a drunk was passed out right next to our tent!


the very last day the city came and ordered those people off of there including us no excuses. so we loaded up and got ready to get on our plane back to the states we have so often talked about those people and how kind they were.


each and every morning we would get up to the sound of the ocean next night go to sleep hearing those waves. our abode was right across from wikiki beach priceless view!


we have tented to Europe 4x fantastic relationships as soon as we were found to be from America they went crazy. we would get on the subway in france and ask in anyone spoke English once again they couldn't do enough for us. Italy, England, Scotland, irelend, Monaco you name it we were treated just fantastic.


I had my billfold stolen in rome once again people were more than kind in what they could do for us. we even had an Iranian offer to buy us dinner if you can believe that!


tenting seems to give you a relationship that compares to nothing else. at 76 I feel I am done but if I can get my back to get just a little better I want to spend a month tenting in Germany the only major country we haven't done it in yet!


what a world we now live in all countries are so close now oh to camp out in Egypt and see the pyramids once but I guess that is impossible!


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Old 04-10-2018, 03:18 PM   #7
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A Lifetime of Camping

Steve, Alex, John,

Great stories. How fortunate we were to grow up in a family that camped like that.

I started out camping in a small sailboat with my parents. Set off for a days' sail to some island, pull up the centre board and coast onto a friendly beach to set up the tent.

Later we also did lots of car camping all across Canada and the USA. My parents were not averse to taking me out of school to travel. Pretty unheard of in the '50's. We often ended up at one room school houses where there would be a place to pitch our tent, a pump for water and an outhouse. The price was right too. I can still remember the smell of that square, dark green canvas umbrella style tent. We used to treat it with some sort of smelly waterproofing solution every spring, something that's probably banned by now! And don't touch the walls when it was raining!

My father, who was a shipwright and then cabinet maker, built a waterproof rooftop carrier with a roll back canvas top held down with those elastic parachute cords with the small hooks. That was because the trunk in the Austin A40 with the top-down lid, was packed. A canvas water bag hanging on the front of the car and we were off.

One winter he built a fold-out tent trailer in our basement. They weren't too popular then but he found some plans in Popular Mechanics and made his own revisions. In the spring we had to help him take it apart, carry it up the narrow stairs and assist him in reassembling it in our driveway. He even sewed all the canvas covering as he was used to making sails. Travellling in the tent trailer all over North America was really delightful since we had so much more room as our family had increased by two. So much easier for my Mother as well.

In my late teens I started backpacking and also purchased an A-frame style Eureka tent. I tried to keep my Gerry of Colorado external frame pack around 35 lbs depending on how long we were going. No such thing as freeze dried food then, but we had canned butter and bacon which I haven't seen since.

A short experiment with a truck camper and a trip to Alaska in my early 20's after university. We soon discovered that we couldn't go anywhere where there weren't any people. So we sold that and purchased a wood and canvas canoe which I still have 50 years later. It's taken us all over the country as well - fresh water lakes, rivers and saltwater ocean trips.That Eureka tent has been around the world in my backpack too. Mostly used in W. Africa.

Also switched up to a bomb-proof Moss tent after our Newfy dog ate the screen out of the Eureka. Also the era of Svea 123 stoves with the nesting aluminum pots, white gas and a few missing eyebrows. Hiking, climbing and paddling served us well to get away from the unwashed masses.

Now, many years later, I discovered that one by one more and more of my friends were no longer sleeping on the ground. I was the last hold-out and still do it but not so often anymore. They were purchasing medium sized trailers and since retiring became Canadian Snowbirds. When I retired I decided it was time to join them. It took me 5 years to find my Trillium after looking at some Bolers both restored and not. I'm glad I did my research and used the buyer's checklist from this site sin ce I found a real gem all custom outfitted by a retired cabinet maker.

Of course by the time I was all set to go South with them things had changed. For some it was health and for most of the others it was the price of fuel, the exchange rate, the change in US government, and for some, the disintegration of their stick-built units. Besides the cost of getting their bigger units off and on this island via ferry. They charge by the foot over 20 ft. in length. I'm 32 ft. with my 13 foot Outback so it's not quite so bad.

One of the fellows did buy himself an old Trillium that he's spent years restoring, between other projects and work. He understands the value of having a fiberglass trailer. Some of my other friends would love to go that route too, but their wives think they are too small, no bathtubs, etc. And the larger units are just too expensive. One of them is left with a wonderful Duramax diesel truck from his towing days even though it's a bit large for wheeling around this small town. When we do go canoe or kayak camping it is nice to use his big truck with a canopy to keep everything dry and secure.

The highlight of my 65 birthday was organizing and guiding a 2 week kayak trip with some friends in Gwaii Haanas National Park in Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands). A trip of a lifetime, although we did hire a water taxi to take us to the bottom of the park so we would just need to paddle back. We figured we were just too old to go both ways and it was a wise decision. You could spend years exploring that untouched wilderness and still not see it all. The Galapagos of Canada.

Now I'm repairing and improving my trailer after a 3 month 8,000 mi/10,000 km trip to the Arctic (Inuvik). No problems with either my truck or the trailer outside of a smashed front windshield on the truck, and some fiberglass damage to the front of the trailer, because my mudflaps weren't wide or long enough to prevent rocks spitting up on the mostly gravel roads.

This year I'll be heading East in early August with the Western Caravan for the Boler 50th Anniversary Event in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Visiting my farming family near there then wandering back on some gravel roads on the way home West. But with a rock guard on the back of my truck this year.

So many of the items I had from hiking and paddling are still used for trailer camping. Although I have graduated to a propane two burner Coleman stove. My granddaughter, age 4, and I will be camping together for the first time this summer. In my tent! My grandson is still to young so he will be in my trailer with his parents.

And I love being able to pull over almost anywhere and make a cup of tea or some lunch without too much fuss. Still camping, just a different style. Boondocking is my first choice unless there are no other options.

Life is short - Go!
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Old 04-11-2018, 09:58 AM   #8
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Great stories and I’ll add mine when I get time.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:14 AM   #9
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not camping but

anyone read Scotties castle story out in the desert?

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Old 04-11-2018, 10:29 AM   #10
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Same here, but it has looked different at different life stages, and there was a lengthy hiatus after I married a non-camper.

Birth-age 9: canvas tent attached to the back of our station wagon

Age 10-17: Skamper tent trailer

Age 11-22: backpacking, canoe camping, and bicycle camping with Boy Scouts

Age 22-39: backpacking, car camping, and kayak touring with friends

Age 40-41: brief stint with a hand-me-down Toyota Itasca moho

Age 42-50: break from camping, hotels

Age 50-current: Scamp camping

It's all good! Okay... maybe not the moho, but that's another story...

I consider myself blessed to have been raised in a family that camped a lot. At 91, my mother still takes her Roadtrek out occasionally. Here she is with the next generation of campers during her last big trip out West.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:32 AM   #11
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Some lovely and evocative memorials to the good old days...and hope for more good new days to come! Thanks, all!

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Old 04-11-2018, 10:35 AM   #12
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Raspy:

Your dog avatar looks like a fox.

Someone else's dog avatar looks like a lion.

You people have funny pets.

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No funny pets for us!
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:25 AM   #13
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I love these stories!!!! Thanks for sharing! Camp on!
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:37 PM   #14
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Raspy:

Your dog avatar looks like a fox.

You people have funny pets.

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No funny pets for us!
Kai,

That is our coyote, Sandy, from out in the wild. Came to live with us at two days old and bonded with the family. Our little terrior, Beibei, trained her and showed her the ropes. Sandy is the most interesting, smartest and trickiest dog I've ever known. She lived here with us, rode with us in the car, went camping, went into supermarkets, restaurants and visited friends in the city. A lot of people heard about her and came to meet her.

A remarkable and life-changing experience that I've written about. A story all about her development, character and the pitfalls encountered. Lots of pictures too. It's a running account of her first five months with updates about the whole experience and her life after being with us. It includes about 600 letters from interested people all over. I can direct you to a link if you're interested.
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