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Old 01-22-2014, 09:22 AM   #21
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Colorado eh?
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:44 AM   #22
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OK, you killjoys have talked me out of it. I realize that the idea was influenced too much by the fun of building a clever and cozy interior. So we'll just fly there and rent a car and bikes like normal people.

I would like to point out that camping (apart from the annoyances mentioned above), is not a hardship. Hotels are also nice, but a good camping experience can be just as good. A nice steak over a wood fire, sitting under the stars by the embers, waking up in a cozy sleeping bag, these things aren't done just to save money. Everyone is different, of course.

And Lena loves camping -- she's the one that wants to do it again, not me. I joke about her preferring a hotel, but that's not quite accurate.
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Old 01-22-2014, 12:33 PM   #23
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And that these dudes are NEVER getting a date.
Well, only with a crazy lady....
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Old 01-22-2014, 12:58 PM   #24
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There are some lightweight pop-up campers appropriate for Tacomas (yes, I know you've already returned to your senses but.....) You might read this over Best pop up for a Tacoma? - Expedition Portal
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:18 PM   #25
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Even the most humble of campgrounds can have 5-star views when you wake up for your morning coffee, unlike some 5-star hotels (if you can even find a hotel in the boonies). Personally, I don't like towing trailers or finding a place to store them. I once had a camper shell over my truck bed which I slept in- worked great, and should work for your purpose. My main issue was headroom when I sat up so I recommend your interior platform be as short as possible. I built a simple wooden table from a sheet of 1" plywood, with approximately 12" legs. I bought some of those "under the bed" clear storage tubs with wheels and put my clothes and cooking essentials in them, then slid them under the table. Coleman has a magnetic, battery-operated tent light ($10 at Amazon.com) - stick that to the interior of your metal shell for light. I installed a hitch and installed a hitch-mounted cargo carrier (saw one for sale at Home Depot for about $50) but they have a variety of options at Amazon. Into the hitch cargo went my ice chest, water jug and other bulky items that I was going to have to haul out at the campsite anyway- that way I could leave my bed laid out all the time, without other stuff laying on top of it getting it dirty. Mattress considerations: foam futon mattresses don't need to be blown up, don't puncture and are usually (IMHO) more comfy (check out Sleep Master tri-fold comfort mat, or Lucid foam mattress sofa style). You can find styles that are 'raw', flat foam, or 4" thick cloth-covered foam that will fold into thirds (these are easier to store later and use for guest beds). Be aware that the foam will smell for a week or two, so get it ahead of time. Inflatable mattresses, on the other hand, can be rolled up to take less storage space when needed but make sure you get a good quality one that won't lose air every night. I do a lot of camping and splurged and bought a Thermarest NeoAir Dreamtime pad, size XL (I'm 6' tall)- it is insulated so the cold does not come up below you. It seemed to offer the best of both worlds although I make sure to have a patch kit for it, just in case.
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:23 PM   #26
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I gotta admit, I love reading these things!
Me too. There are some great vandwelling videos on Youtube.

Check out this cool van conversion:



I would love to have a VW Westfalia...
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:39 PM   #27
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Me too. There are some great vandwelling videos on Youtube.

I would love to have a VW Westfalia...
Eh, you started a thread on the RV subject, but then dropped the idea apparently. Is it coming back?

I love RV'ing to enjoy nature. I also like to do fly-and-drive trips to visit large cities and stay in hotel rooms. These are different experiences, so why not do both?
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:48 PM   #28
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Eh, you started a thread on the RV subject, but then dropped the idea apparently. Is it coming back?
Nah, it's just me daydreaming again. DW is still not enthusiastic about the idea. Lately I got her hooked on hiking. Who knows, she might get hooked on camping one day...
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:50 PM   #29
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OK, you killjoys have talked me out of it. I realize that the idea was influenced too much by the fun of building a clever and cozy interior. So we'll just fly there and rent a car and bikes like normal people.

I would like to point out that camping (apart from the annoyances mentioned above), is not a hardship. Hotels are also nice, but a good camping experience can be just as good. A nice steak over a wood fire, sitting under the stars by the embers, waking up in a cozy sleeping bag, these things aren't done just to save money. Everyone is different, of course.

And Lena loves camping -- she's the one that wants to do it again, not me. I joke about her preferring a hotel, but that's not quite accurate.
No, there's nothing wrong with using a camper shell. You sleep off the ground, and on a comfortable mattress. You are sheltered from rain. As you have camped in a tent before, this can be more comfortable, I think. Just do not let anyone back there when moving, that's all. And I think it is also not legal to have any occupant in a travel trailer when moving.

As for me, I do not need a lot of space, but want to have a toilet handy. A small vehicle like a Roadtrek would work, but the class C that I bought was less expensive. The gas mileage is poorer, but then it's roomier and it makes the missus happier, so she will go on the treks with me. And that's most important.
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Old 01-22-2014, 01:52 PM   #30
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...

I would like to point out that camping (apart from the annoyances mentioned above), is not a hardship. Hotels are also nice, but a good camping experience can be just as good. ...
Your blog sure didn't make it sound that way!

I know you were exaggerating a bit for comedic effect, but it seems that you really need to get out a ways to experience anything near the idyllic image of camping under the stars. I don't know how available those places are, but I'm assuming they are far off the beaten path.

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Old 01-22-2014, 02:06 PM   #31
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Fiberglass

Definitely go fiberglass Al. The Aluminum camper tops are subject to denting from the slightest bump and look awful after a hail storm.

This is my 1999 F150 shortbed with a fiberglass camper top. I had it painted to match the truck. The black brackets on top of the camper top hold the kayak/canoe racks, not in use on this trip. Both the truck and camper top have given us great service with 15 years and many miles on them.

We don't sleep in the truck anymore since we got the 2010 Aliner. It's a hard sided folding camper which has the benefits of being light and easy to tow but still can keep geezer campers like us comfy with air condx, furnace, running water, a real bed and, importantly, no canvas.

This pic was taken at a club outing in New Hampshire. Normally we're at more remote locations.

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Old 01-22-2014, 02:12 PM   #32
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but it seems that you really need to get out a ways to experience anything near the idyllic image of camping under the stars. I don't know how available those places are, but I'm assuming they are far off the beaten path.

-ERD50
This type of boondock camping is not hard to find in the spacious western US.
The only kind of camping that I enjoy is with 0 neighbors or a few choice friends.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:29 PM   #33
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Even in National Park campgrounds when I had neighbors 50 ft away, the experience was still great. It is nice to spend a day outside enjoying nature, then come back to our RV - we have a toad towed behind the class C for excursions - to have a nice dinner. Lodges in NPs are very difficult to book. Staying outside the NP in a motel in nearby towns and driving in everyday takes a lot of time. Checking in/out of motels and looking for places to have a meal becomes a chore. We used to do roadtrips like that, but now with the arrangement that we have, a trek is more fun.

I think a small compact RV brings back the kid in us. Remember the little tent or the tree house we enjoyed in our childhood, with a make-believe kitchen? There's a hard-to-described pleasure in sleeping in my 25' motorhome with all its amenities and comfort, parked in a forest of giant trees. It's close enough to nature for me, and I do not have to be in a tent to enjoy the surrounding.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:40 PM   #34
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Me too. There are some great vandwelling videos on Youtube.

Check out this cool van conversion:

<Video link edited out>

I would love to have a VW Westfalia...
That's a very inspiring video FIREd. She's given herself creature comforts and a very agreeable living space for not much money. I also like that her character doesn't seem to be of the extreme outlier (and borderline nutty) type that I think many people expect of vandwellers. She seems to be down to earth and practical, and appears to be really enjoying this lifestyle. Good for her.

I am now going to watch some of the other videos on that channel. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:41 PM   #35
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This type of boondock camping is not hard to find in the spacious western US.
Yeah, very true. We went to Yellowstone last autumn and enjoyed seeing that National Park for the first time. But what we really enjoyed was camping in National Forest Service campgrounds in the Shoshone National Forest and the Big Horn mountains going and coming. Amazingly beautiful and pristine although some of the campgrounds might have been a bit tight for folks with big RV's.

But we also find plenty of uncrowded camping right here in the Midwest, sometimes just over the horizon from Chicago's skyline. Avoiding July and August near population centers and tourist attractions is a big help.

Midfork Campground, National Forest Service, Sept '13, in the Big Horn Mountains west of Cody, Wyo. Only a couple of miles off the pavement but it seemed a world away.
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:51 PM   #36
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Surely, a little travel trailer can give a lot of fun.

For people who like a single vehicle like the self-converted van, I'd say people with some means would do better with a Roadtrek, a used one if you are frugal or not sure if you like it enough to spring for a new one. Just now, I looked on RVtrader-dot-com and saw more used Roadtreks than I ever saw before. In a compact vehicle, you have a kitchen, a bed, a toilet, a small bathroom, A/C, water heater, furnace for cold weather, a generator for self-sufficiency.

A van conversion takes some work, and many do not finish the job. Just get a Roadtrek. A clean used one costs only as much as an average new car. It's all done for you. Just fill up with gas and off you go.
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