Ok, Fiberglas Campers!
We just returned from a two month 3000 mile jaunt with our egg in tow (not all camping out ) and so I thought I’d give a report. Might be something of use to someone out there but I tend to be a bit long winded… so you’ve been warned. Also, maybe this is about self-discovery more than anything else but here are a few things we think we learned.
First of all, we’re a retired 60 something couple with a small dog (9 lbs). We have far more experience with traveling by sailboat than cruising by Scamp
. This road trip took us from Florida (Auburndale is about the middle of the state) up I-95 to North Carolina (to visit friends) then to Connecticut and Massachusetts (to visit relatives) and return through New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia etc via the inside route, I-81 mostly.
I think I wrote that north-bound, we stopped at a KOA in Richmond Hill (outside of Savannah, Ga) and at Tranters Creek Campground outside of Washington, North Carolina. On the way back, we attended the FG RV Rally/Confab at Letchworth State Park in beautiful upstate New York, then another private campground just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, a US Forest Service campground in Jefferson National Forest near Wythville, Virginia and finally home.
I think what we discovered is that we’re really Public campground type people… State Parks, National Parks, etc. as opposed to ‘Private campground’ (read KOA, Jellystone, among others) folks. Maybe we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion from our limited experience but I will anyway. Related to this decision is the opinion that Woodall’s is almost useless especially as concerns their rating system. If you stay at private campgrounds then Woodall’s might have some value, otherwise leave it home. The AAA regional guides are much more compact and while their rating system is just as bad at least they don’t take as much space.
I suppose the private campgrounds like KOA have their place but it’s not our style. We haven’t spent much time in these campgrounds before and won’t likely do so again. For one thing they’re too crowded. The parking places are too jammed on top of each other. The private campgrounds we stayed in were like Home Depot parking lots with trees. Yes they had all the hook-ups but generally the showers and restrooms were a long walk away (usually at the front office) and your neighbor’s hook-ups were right in your front yard. At Tranter’s Creek the motor home next to us had their sewer hook-up right under our picnic table … yeesh … nuff said.
The good thing about KOA is that they’re usually right off the interstate so convenience ranks but they do charge … upwards of $30 a night. They’re also usually safe and clean so they’re not all bad. But I opine that they’re more oriented to the Camping World crowd meaning big rigs not the little guys like us.
Maybe we were just lucky but both Letchworth State Park in New York and the Stony Fork Campground in Virginia were both gorgeous, woodsy places with lots of hiking trails (our preferred activity). Both featured well-developed back-in sites (never a problem with our Scamp) with electric hook-ups and Stony Fork had a water hook-up as well. Both had nicely built and maintained bathhouses near the sites with hot water showers. Now, we have a toilet and hot water shower in our 16ft Scamp
but we consider them to be emergency use only. This is mainly because while they work OK, the closet is very cramped and usually full of stuff that has to be moved before it can be used. Just us I’m sure, but we prefer nice clean showers and restrooms near the campsite. Both of these campgrounds spread out the campsites so while you could see your neighbor, there were lots of trees and space between sites.
Another thing we think we learned is to travel on the weekends and park in a campground starting Sunday night making sure to leave by Friday noon. Maybe this is because of our ‘public’ campground bent but both Letchworth and Stony Fork were wonderfully quiet and peaceful during the week but got noisy and rambunctious on Friday and Saturday nights. We stayed over after the FG Rally
in Letchworth until Monday morning … mistake. We should have left with everyone else. Now we know why it was planned for Tuesday through Friday.
On Friday afternoon, the tent campers moved in for the weekend. The guy next to us had two big Rottweilers, the folks behind us also had two Rotties plus a German Shepard while the people across the street only had one Rottie. Yikes! These dogs barked at everything that moved and when we walked the trail between their camp area and ours, these massive black beasties would snarl and leap to the end of their chains and likely would have attacked us had they not been chained up.
My usual 4am walk to the men’s room turned up a nasty surprise too. The path behind our campsite was littered with beer cans and bottles plus assorted other trash. By 11am it was still lying there so on one of my trips to the dumpster, I picked it all up. Some folks are just pigs on two legs, I guess. Later more trash appeared.
Then on Sunday late morning (when these tenters should have been long gone) we took our little dog for a hike on a marked trail that extended behind another camping ‘loop’ that also allowed tent campers and dogs. As we walked behind this one tent campsite a large black dog, maybe a ‘Lab’ mix suddenly appeared out of nowhere and attacked our little dog, which was on a leash held by my wife. The dog never barked or anything just charged and knocked over our little Molly. I got in a few well placed kicks and drove the thing back to it’s campsite all the while yelling at the moron owner that let his dog roam free. The incident shook up my wife so bad it took the rest of the day to bring her back down to some level of calmness. We reported the incident to the Ranger station and they dispatched a trooper but the people had already left the area and since neither we nor our dog had visible injuries, we decided not to pursue the matter. Very traumatic though.
Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon but we will now put the miles on over the weekends and stay in nice public campgrounds during the week. Don’t get me too wrong. I enjoy kids and always have fun with them, raised one brat of my own and we have our own dog so I know how it is. I just prefer to think that my dog is well behaved and that my son was at least respectful of other people. We do pick up after our dog too unlike some campers.
Nuff o’ that carp.
Now the FGRV Rally
at Letchworth may not be as well attended as the Scamp
Camp in Sebring but I will tell you that Dick and Linda Freed did a great job organizing this event and the associated activities. We had 15 campers, 5 Casitas, 7 Scamps, 1 Boler
and 1 Burro
. It doesn’t add to 15 I know but one RV was not FG although Ray used to be a Scamp owner. The timing thing was great too, having the rally
after school has started and during the week meant that it was a quiet, peaceful and relaxing time with folks of similar speed and demeanor. The potluck dinners were all great; my wife really enjoyed the basket weaving class. Getting to tour everyone’s RV while yakking about various mods was great for me.
Our ’83 Scamp 16 wasn’t the oldest, a ’77 Burro
was. Darn, missed that one. Our truck didn’t have the smallest engine, we got beat on that one by 300 ccs to a Subaru Outback, strike two. And we came from Florida but wouldn’t you know that a couple from California was there to claim the prize for ‘came the farthest’ … three strikes and you’re out. By the way the Subaru from Maine tows a brand new Scamp 16 (with no tanks).
The weather turned cold, nicely though, and we had to do a trip to the Geneseo Wal Mart to get a small heater but for us Florida folk the cold was actually a treat. We got to wear our flannel shirts and jeans! We even broke out the mummy bags! The summer’s been quite dry in the northeast this year so some leaves were already showing fall
colors. Couldn’t have picked a better week for hiking, campfires or snuggling!
If you’ve never been to Letchworth State Park or the Finger Lakes /Genesee Valley Region of Upstate New York you’re missing some of the prettiest country anywhere. This area was home to the Mohawk, Seneca Mohegan and Huron before the white man came and much of our country’s heritage is rooted there. Then there’s the wineries… in my opinion Finger Lakes wines rate second only to Napa Valley product. Of course, here, we were only an hour or so away from Niagara Falls and so we had to do a day trip there although the gorges and waterfalls in Letchworth SP are plenty spectacular. This park well deserves its reputation as the Grand Canyon of the east. The scenery is just fantastic and there’s miles of well-marked trail none of which rates tougher than a moderate. Simply the best.
The trip home was a challenge to some degree. The roads were so rough that the Scamp door popped open about every 2 miles. I even resorted to a two hour major surgery (in a Lowe’s parking lot) via Dremel tool to install a new lock in the door that I thought would work but alas … no satisfaction. I finally resorted to a bungee cord between the wheel well and the upper hinge over the door. At least with this rig, if the door latch(s) popped, the door didn’t swing wide open. We also rigged small bungee cords over the coat hooks that we have inside. This keeps the hangers on the hooks. Man the roads were bad … especially from North Carolina south to Florida with special mention to South Carolina. One time we saw a road sign in a bridge construction area on I-95 in Florida that said ‘bump’ … we then slowed down and when we went over it we both said ‘That was a bump?’ They need to check in with the pros in SC … these Florida folks don’t have a clue what a bump is.
Other than the lumpy roads, the rig did fine. We averaged anywhere from 16 mpg to 20mpg depending on speed. 65 mph got us consistently 16 mpg and 55 mph got us 20 mpg. I was a little apprehensive because we weighed the rig before we left and while we were under the truck and camper axle
limits by several hundred pounds, our trailer net of the hitch weight
came in at 2190 lbs … that’s loaded but tanks empty. Our 2004 Colorado is rated to tow a 2000lb trailer with our drive train (4 cyl, 5 speed manual) but the truck had no problems even in the mountains. Sure, we had to catch 4th gear sometimes on the interstate and some 3rd or 2nd even on the windy mountain roads. The little truck that could has plenty of brakes
and it’s heavy enough that the trailer doesn’t throw it around much. Sometimes we get some trailer sway when trucks pass us but backing off the gas usually stops it right away. Only once or twice I tried the trailer brakes
via the controller button and that seemed to work too but it really wasn’t much of an issue. Even downhill on rough roads, we had excellent control.
Also our single group 27 deep cycle battery
powered the electric fridge
(underway) just fine via the 1500 watt inverter. The tug power system kept it charged when we were moving. Sure is nice to arrive at a campsite and have ice for my rum.
We also enjoyed our screen room/awning. It makes a nice outdoor room where we can let the dog have a little freedom anyway. A cheap indoor/outdoor rug kept most of the dirt/leaves/etc outside quite well.
We also liked the Thermos ‘Grill to Go’ or whatever it’s called. It’s a propane
grill that’s like a George Foreman type grill. The drippings go into a trough and are funneled into a side bottle. It has a ribbed grill on the left side and a flat griddle like area on the right. The griddle worked great for hash/pancakes/bacon/eggs, etc and the ribbed side worked well for burgers/steaks/chicken etc. AND it just wipes clean with a few paper towels, well maybe more than a few. Also the wife liked the little stainless steel Brinkman gas stove that we picked up at WalMart.
Ok that’s the report. I’ll work on the pictures but they’re all big and I’ll have to massage them a bit for sending over my dial-up connection.
I’d be happy to answer any questions.