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Winter Camping
 

By: Charles Watts

Well, it was time.

I winterized the trailer yesterday. The hot water tank is bypassed. Pretty pink RV antifreeze fills the water lines and water pump. Left a little antifreeze in the fresh water tank. Traps (including bathroom floor) are also filled with antifreeze.

BUT am I sad? Am I ready to store our trailer away for the winter? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm excited! And we're ready to go winter camping!

Some of our best camp-outs have been in the dead of winter. We're ready, old man winter ... bring it on! Bring on that ice and snow ...

Below freezing temps, no problem ... we're still going camping! In a couple of weeks, we'll head for Illinois Beach State Park on Lake Michigan and probably have the place to ourselves!

Now much has been written about winter camping, so I'm not going to rehash it ... but let me assure you, camping in a January snow-storm can be just as much fun as a June heat-wave.

Try it, you'll like it!

But I feel it's almost manditory you have a site with electricity, because the battery alone will never power the furnace through a cold December weekend. We also prefer to use a little ceramic cube heater for winter camping, because it's more quiet than the propane furnace.

Fortunately most state parks here in Illinois stay open year-round, with electricity to most campsites. Have a "plan" in place, however, if a winter storm knocks out the electricity, as it did to us once last year. (I carry a Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater as a back-up heat system)

A winterized water system doesn't slow us down, however. Gallon (3.78 L) jugs of water provide fresh water for drinking, cooking and washing the dishes. Other water jugs provide the means to "flush" a toilet.

My wife uses an electric tea-pot for a constant stream of hot tea and hot chocolate ... as well as a ready source of hot water for military showers and washing dishes (which she does, cause I make a mess & she doesn't). A small coffee pot keeps a pot of coffee hot all morning.

Since you're using both the gray and black tanks, occasionally one of your dump valves will freeze. The gray seems to freeze more than the black (because you're constantly putting 98 degrees liquid in the black tank off and on all night ... at least I am). No problem, just use a hair dryer to "thaw" it before you head for the dump station. You could also just wait until the temperature moderated before dumping. That's an option if you're headed back to warm climates, but here it might stay below freezing for months on end.

Also, keep that hair dryer handy, because occasionally a winter sleet storm and condensation will cause the door gasket to freeze to the trailer frame ... but have no fear, it's easy to thaw the door gasket with the hair dryer from the inside.

After your winter camping trip, remember to pour more antifreeze into the sink traps and holding tanks ... and your trailer is back in "winter storage" mode.

Temperatures here often dip below 0 F (-18C ) ... sometimes as far as 20 below 0 F (-29 C). Now, we're not stupid. It's deadly to be out in temperatures like that. But we feel anything thing above 15 to 20 degrees F ( -6 to -9 C) is fair game for a winter camp-out

Having said all this, I'm also excited about planning our annual Florida Spring camping trip, during which I'll unwinterize the trailer ... but until then, let's all go winter camping!