Posts Tagged ‘Camping’

Out with Camping, In With … Uh…..?

April 23, 2017

One day in September, 2004 I was driving along a busy road outside of town and spotted a camp trailer sitting near an intersection with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. I pulled over and peeked in the windows, wrote down the phone number and then hammered David through that evening and the next day, Honey, we just have to buy that trailer! It was no ordinary trailer. It was an extraordinary retro 1974 Bell 16’camp trailer, small enough that surely David could pull it with his 4-Runner. Sure, we could afford something bigger and newer, but I had spotted the trailer I wanted.

By the end of the next day, for 1500 bucks, it was ours! Of course, it needed some work. Like, rewiring, new plumbing, it didn’t even have a rack to hold the propane tanks. (What propane tanks?) Uh, did I mention the upholstery on the fold out bed was in complete tatters? Okay, no worries, I just dropped it off at the Local RV repair shop, Eagle Rock RV, and they kept it for a week or so and fixed it all up! ‘Ka-ching!’ (doubled the investment). I had the fold out bed reupholstered as well. Ready to go! Except it was too late in the year now to go camping. So we rented a storage space for $300.00/year.

Camper in storage, isn’t it a beauty?

When we pulled it out the next summer, we discovered that maybe it had some leaks too. My hubby wasn’t too thrilled with that news, but my sister Lisa’s husband Tom climbed up and sealed every window, sealed every seam on the whole thing, so David wouldn’t be so mad at me and my insistence on having this camper in the first place.

To be honest, getting ready to go camping for the weekend is a big project. First you pull the thing out of storage into your driveway. Then you check that everything works, the battery, the pump, stove, furnace, the tail lights and blinkers, check the tires, check for plumbing leaks… fill the propane tanks, fill the water tank with your hose, stock the camper with food and bedding, extra table, folding chairs, grill, firewood, clothes, flashlights and bug spray – don’t forget the flashlights and bug spray! Oh, and boy scout fluid to light the campfire…

We’re ready to go!

Ready to hit the road!

Our favorite camping spot was Garden Creek Campground on the Big Lost River off of Trail Creek Road, about 20 miles beyond Mackey off Highway 93. We must have camped there 4-5 times, over the past 12 years. We’d always go with my brother Eric because he knows about every possible camping, hiking or fishing spot within a 200-mile radius of Idaho Falls. We’re on highway 93 now going north toward Mackay – with Eric’s rig behind us

Eric in our rear view mirror

We’d set up camp, unhitch the trailer and take off in the truck looking for a trail head to some obscure lake Eric had in mind.

Once we got a flat along the way:

David/Eric manly-man-team

But we enjoyed so many fantastic views just getting to the trail heads in the wilds

Corruption Mountain

Some Lakes you will only get to if you are already camping in the wilds..

Eric at Merriam Lake

Pulling out of Garden Creek campground now:

The Lost River Range is sprawled out in front of us as we head back to 93 on Trail Creek Road

Lost River Range

Megan went camping with us once. Uh, maybe twice. She doesn’t like bugs. She camped with us behind Pond’s lodge up in Island Park in September 2009. We parked our camper next to Eric’s. The view out our doorway was quite unique…

What’s with that cabin? Did a tornado blow through here?

We were camping only about 30 paces from the front door to the restaurant in the Lodge where we ate all our meals. Now that’s camping in style!

Plus we had cell phone coverage outside the camper:

Megan camping

We drove to the top of Mount Sawtelle where it was very windy. I thought the wind might blow Rudy right off:

Rudy on top of Sawtelle in Island Park

My sister Lisa and her husband Tom love to camp and fish. We met them a couple of times up near Island Park. Except they found even more remote campgrounds than we did and had to tie their food up high in the trees to keep from attracting bears. They have endless wild camping stories. We hiked up to Blair Lake with them –

Blair Lake

Megan and Rudy led the way back:

Hiking back from Blair Lake, September 2009

Of course, there’s always a huge mess to clean up after a weekend camping trip.

Who’s cleaning it up?

And to be honest, in the past 12 1/2 years we probably only went camping 10-12 times. About one weekend a summer. So out of the last 12 1/2 years we were camping maybe 25 days… the camper sat in storage 4500 days. We didn’t take it out at all last summer.

So when the $300.00 storage bill came due the first of April, David said, hey, I want to sell the camper. Awwwwww. Okay. It’s time…

We hauled it out of storage and checked everything out. It all works! What a great camper. You see, the fridge just uses block ice, and the bathroom… a porta potty. The furnace doesn’t have a blower, so there isn’t much in that camper that can break down.

I took photos of its exquisite interior. Everything is original except the curtains and the bench I had reupholstered. Love the double sinks and all that kitchen counter space!

Well, I posted it for sale on Craig’s list $2000 firm, and got a call that very day. A young lady, Elisa, with a couple of small children came by to see the camper. First thing she did was to check the outside windows and seams to make sure the camper was sealed. Tom had done a great job on that.

I’ll take it! She said, and wrote us a check for the full price.

I’ve been looking for a camper like this since last January! she said. I bought another vintage camper for 900 bucks from a relative. Bought linoleum for it. Was going to fix it all up, but found out it was all rotted out because of water leaks. I’m a glamper! You know what that is, don’t you? You know what glamping is?

I acted like I sorta did know.

I’ve even bought the chandelier! she said. I have flags!

Chandelier?

I Googled it – and found a couple of links of glamping and glampers on Pinterest.

I took a couple of (crappy) photos from Pinterest with my i-phone (couldn’t figure out how to download them) just to give you a teaser…(come on males, I know you’re interested now):

And here’s one more link with more spectacular glamper/glamping ideas!

It was great to sell the camper to Elisa who loved it at least as much as I did. Gushed over the color, the original lamp shades, the whole early 70’s vintage thing. Even loved the bathroom space with porta potty.

Here’s looking at you, kid

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a small chandelier above that porta potty. Puffy ruffly print curtains. Some flags for sure. There’s probably room for several shelves with flower arrangements and such, too.

Who would have thought all along we could have done such glamorous camping? Glamping in our vintage trailer! That works, actually, if you park your glamper behind a restaurant and lodge.

Camping in the Idaho Wilds

July 27, 2014

In mid-July, David, Eric and I stole away to the Idaho wilderness for a weekend camping trip. I started asking David exactly where we were, and he provided me with this ‘you are here’ visual, compliments of Google maps:

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We’re camped at the pink dot. That dark drippy looking blob in the lower right corner is the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Above that you see the town of Arco. Thirty miles northwest of Arco is Mackay, Idaho. 15 miles beyond Mackay, you turn left onto Trail Creek Road, and drive about 15 miles. That’s where we’re camped. You can continue down Trail Creek Road another 30 miles through the mountains over to Ketchum, Idaho.

Friday, 6 PM -July 11 – Our 1973 Bell camper is packed and ready to go!

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(Aren’t you just seething with envy? – have I shown you the interior?)

David, Eric and I hit the road in David’s truck pulling the trailer. An hour later we pass through Arco – where we meet the Lost River Range. I snap a photo out the right back seat window:

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The mountains grow in magnificence as we approach Mackay.

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The highest peak of the Lost River Range, Mount Borah, comes into view:

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We pull next to Ken’s Club in Mackay about 7:30 PM and grab dinner. Just before 9 PM, we’ve turned onto Trail Creek Road – the first 8 miles are paved. I took a couple of photos:

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We arrive at Garden Creek campsite before dark. It’s the weekend of the full moon, but the sky is cloudy and spitting rain. We don’t even bother with a campfire before turning in for the night.

First order of business Saturday morning: Brew up boiling water and ground coffee in our French press. Eric has just crawled out of his, uh,

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‘Tent-cot’ – I think is what it’s called, – he’s downsized a tad from the pickup with extended camper rig he camped in last time.

Oh, and I see Eric’s wearing his “Godzilla Kitty attacks NYC” t-shirt.

We are keen for a hike, but not a death march (of which we have to constantly remind Eric). Eric directs us to a trailhead a few miles from camp. We’ve already hiked a mile before we reach this sign:

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Where a discussion ensues.

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It seriously won’t break my heart if I don’t hike eleven more miles to “Betty Lake” and back, or to “Surprise Vally” (for real? Seriously. That’s creepy. What sort of surprise awaits you in ‘Surprise Vally?’).

“No, Eric, we won’t have to come back and do it because we didn’t do it today. Which, we’re NOT doing it today…”

“How about you take our photo with that marvelous peak (that we don’t have to claw our way to the top of) in the background!”

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We’re hiking back out now…

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and boiling hot by the time we hike the one mile back to the truck. It’s strange how even a hill can make us feel so small.

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We decide to drive Trail Creek Road all the way to Ketchum (uh, let’s see – sit and boil at the campsite, melt on another hike, or spend the rest of the afternoon in air conditioning…) I shot a few photos of the scenery along the way:

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We arrive in Ketchum just before 6 PM – so of course, we get dinner. At the Pioneer Saloon on Main Street. Steak Kabobs, fresh salad, baked potato … just the kind of camping dinner I love!

Drove the 30 miles, mostly dirt road, back to the campsite. Built a big honking campfire.

Sunday, after breakfast, we hike a short trail to the Big Lost River to fish. Not fly fishing, mind you. Fishing grosses me out. At least the “worming the hook” part, demonstrated here by Eric.

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They don’t feel a thing, right? The worm is SCREAMING as the total length of his body is gored to the hook. Could you hear a worm scream? Yeah, well have you ever really listened?

(By the way, although it may look like worm guts on Eric’s hands, it’s actually furniture stain, as he refinishes antiques as part of his Antique Business – just wanted to clear that up!)

Eric and David caught about 10 trout, rainbows and cutthroats.

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Threw them all back.

We packed up camp about 2 PM Sunday and headed for home.

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Driving back on Trail Creek Road toward Highway 93 now. The Lost River Range is sprawled out in front of us in brilliant splendor.

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We’re on highway 93 now, near Mackay:

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We arrive back in our driveway about 6 PM – about 48 hours after we pulled out. That’s just about as much camping as I can handle, as long as it includes dinners eaten out at restaurants.

Oh, did I mention that we discovered a plumbing leak in the camper as soon as we turned on the kitchen faucet at the campsite? Yeah. So we basically didn’t run water in the camper. Luckily we brought along a few extra jugs. So when we got home David had to find the leak and fix the plumbing. Oh, and before we went camping we had to buy and install a new battery, new fuse, new interior light bulb, and new locking valve for the water tank.

But hey, it looked mighty fine by the time we hauled it back into storage. I took photos – you DO want to see the interior, don’t you? (Eat your heart out.) Here’s the tour:

The breakfast nook. (the original blue flowered upholstery!):

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The kitchen (double sinks!)

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the stove and fridge (uses block ice!)

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And the bench (dig that lime green!)

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As David backed the camper into it’s costly covered storage space (and I directed) I noticed one tail light was out. Oh well. No worry. The last time we took this thing out was three summers ago. (I actually blogged about it.) At that rate of use, this camper should be around for generations to come. Our kids will be ever so thrilled!

The Caraher’s Go-a-Campin’

September 20, 2009

With fall approaching it’s time to call it a ‘wrap’ on the camping season. We took our camper out twice this summer, for a grand total of three nights. I keep insisting to my husband, David, that this is good! – verses his preference, which is more akin to not going camping and say we did.

“But heck!” (I tell David to excite him about going.) “We pay $300.00 a year just to store the thing. We save a night’s motel (okay, flea bag motel) every night we stay in our camper! Camping for three or four nights a year makes up for the cost of storage!”

We hit the mark this year, camping for three nights, and that’s what’s important here.

photo(16)Here you see a picture of our camper where it is parked about 360 days a year. It is a 1973 Bell, a 16-foot beauty, wait till you see its lime-green interior! We bought it three years ago at my insistence as a quantum leap up from camping out of the back of David’s truck. Megan, the dog, and I, would bed down in the back of the truck, while David got the ground, and a tarp to cover himself in case of rain. In the morning we all crawled out as if from under rocks, piled back into the truck and drove somewhere to find food and a bathroom to squat in to clean ourselves up, at which juncture Megan and I were usually thoroughly spent and pleading to go home.

So I spotted this totally retro 16′ camper with its divine lime green interior and just had to have it. For a mere 1,500 bucks! Good buy! We could afford it! And do some REAL camping! Albeit it doesn’t have a bathroom or hot water and the ice box runs on, uh, block ice. Of course, as soon as we wrote a check for the thing and hauled it into our driveway we learned the roof leaked like a sieve, the plumbing had to be replaced and the field mice had a veritable field day chewing on the upholstery. “Sorry, dear!” But, “Cha-ching!” Oh well, what’s another 1,500 bucks for the trailer’s restoration? We will certainly get $3,000.00 worth of fun out of our precious lime-green retro camper in the long run! We only have to camp in it, say, every summer for the next 10-15 years to make the return on our investment.

We do go camping, about 3-4 days a year. Except we have our own special requirements. First of all, we never camp in campsites with hook-ups. No way! We like to rough it! Haul the camper off-road to some wilderness area, hopefully next to a stream, so we can fish. We build a humongous campfire, feed it dead tree limbs past midnight, and stand around it belting out our own unique renditions of old Bee-Gees’ songs, complete with ‘harmony.’ (This activity involves camping with my younger brother, Eric, who knows the wilderness areas like his back yard, knows almost every word of every Bee-Gee song ever made, and belts out a unique, um, falsetto … It also involves making sure we don’t have neighbors within 500 yards.)

Unless we just don’t want to bother with a campfire or cooking and all that. Then we do what we did camping overnight during Labor Day weekend: Park close to a restaurant so we can eat there and squat in their bathroom (since we don’t have a bathroom in our camper, as I said. We do, however, have a corner closet which houses a porta-potty, which, why would we use it if we don’t have to?).

Another plus about camping near a restaurant is that you are also then probably in, or near, a town where you might have cell phone coverage so your daughter, who is twenty and was unenthusiastically dragged along on the trip in the first place, can text her friends.

So we went camping Sunday night into Labor Day. My brother with the falsetto voice invited us to join him in Island Park, Idaho – a mere 90-minute drive from our house. Eric was running a booth at an Antique show in front of Pond’s Lodge (which is actually just a restaurant now). He had parked his camper behind the restaurant in an area that used to house campsites and rental cabins, but was now, under new ownership, transitioning into small private lots sporting $300,000.00 log homes. There was a spot back there beside his camper, Eric told us, where we could camp, and there were no other campers around on account of all the construction. There was cell phone coverage, too! We were totally ‘there!’

We pulled in behind Pond’s lodge about 3PM Sunday – parked our camper back there next to Eric’s camper. Then we did an outsy-doorsy thing, afterall, we were camping. Drove the 4-Runner up to the top of Sawtelle mountain:

Picture us standing at the very top!

Picture us standing at the very top!

It lies just a few miles outside of Island Park and yes, you can drive clear to the top of it. Here’s a photo I took of Megan on top of Sawtelle … She handled it okay:

Yes!  There is cell phone coverage!

Yes! There is cell phone coverage!

However, the wind was blowing about forty miles an hour and we didn't linger long. Here is our dog, Rudy, enjoying the view while trying to keep his footing:

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We quickly jumped back in the truck and switch-backed our way down the mountain to return to our ‘campsite.’ It was just too windy to think of being outside and too early for dinner so we decided to hang out in the camper. Go ‘lime green!’

Who's got the lime?

Who's got the lime?

It was then that we paused to take in the view out our camper door…

What's with the cabin?  Tornado?

What's with the cabin? Tornado?

How did that cabin get turned on its, uh, would that be … ‘nose?’

Notice the legs and white tennies. Those belong to Megan. I didn’t ask her to position her legs in the scene just to enhance my photo. She is very busy here, mind you, absorbed with focused singularity in her camping experience, unaffectedly battered by high winds as she resolutely …

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… texts her friends. Hey, no problem if the cell phone (surrounded by so much metal I guess) doesn’t work in the camper. Eric’s camper (pictured in the first photo with the apparent tornado) is similar in size to ours, except fully equipped and, you will notice, his back window is cracked … (for extra ventilation perhaps? Nice touch.).

Soon it was dinnertime and we walked the 200 yards to the restaurant. My brother, Eric, joined us and so did my sister, Lisa, (otherwise known as ‘Twitch’) and her husband, Tom. They were camping in Island Park as well, only they really were ‘roughing it’ in a campsite 15 miles away off a dirt road. There was a ‘Bear Box’ pre-installed at their campsite along with an 18-foot-high horizontal pole from which to levitate their food stuffs so as to have no excuse if they ended up mauled by bears.

After a comfortable ‘green’ night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast at Pond’s Lodge Restaurant, all six of us embarked on a 2 1/2-mile hike up to Blair Lake:

Blair Lake

Blair Lake

The trail head was about a 20-mile drive from our campsite. We fished and picnicked by the lake and it didn’t matter at all about cell phone coverage, particularly since Megan’s cell phone was long since dead by now.

On the hike back from the lake I was remembering all the reasons why I want to go camping.

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How can you get any closer to nature than this? I know David and Megan (and our dog Rudy!) felt as I did. How lucky we were! – and blessed! – to be here, all of us together, hiking in the Idaho wild, living this unforgettable experience!

My sister, Lisa, told me later that a black bear had run across the road in front of them as they were driving away from their remote campsite 15 miles from where we camped. Hey, our campsite worked out just fine! Eric explained that the owner of Pond’s Lodge was trying to find the quickest way to demolish the old cabins to clear the lots behind his restaurant. He tried just lifting them up with heavy machinery and dropping them on their sides to see if they would collapse on themselves. Maybe he should set that cabin that was near our camper upright again and just use it – it’s so sturdy!

Lastly, here is a photo of our corner camper closet, you know, the one with the porta-potty…

"Keep the lid shut!"

… staring up at you with it’s two eyeballs as if to issue a warning:

Raise the lid at your own risk!

I don’t know why I took this photo. Nothing in it is even green.