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Old 09-20-2010, 10:42 AM   #181
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We enhanced the utility of our van by buying a 5' x 8' cargo trailer to pull behind it. Plenty of organized storage inside the trailer leaving the van uncluttered. We can even do food prep in the trailer if the weather's bad. It's also a roomy place to change clothes.
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:04 PM   #182
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So you really wouldn't consider a small trailer? Then pull it with a good-sized SUV that can carry tons of gear including boats on top. That's how we handled our camping plus gear needs. Then you can leave the trailer at the campground while you run around in your SUV with your other gear.

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We were considering getting a small cargo trailer and using our HOnda Pilot. What size trailer did you get?
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:08 PM   #183
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So you really wouldn't consider a small trailer? Then pull it with a good-sized SUV that can carry tons of gear including boats on top. That's how we handled our camping plus gear needs. Then you can leave the trailer at the campground while you run around in your SUV with your other gear.

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Stealth seems to be important to Helen and a conversion van might attract less attention than a trailer.
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Old 09-23-2010, 02:13 PM   #184
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We have a big RV show coming to town in February and I am getting excited! I am still set on a sprinter van conversion, though the price tag is definitely holding me back...
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:38 PM   #185
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We have a big RV show coming to town in February and I am getting excited! I am still set on a sprinter van conversion, though the price tag is definitely holding me back...
We thought the Sprinters looked good too and had the same issue with the expense. Good luck finding a reasonably priced one. We have even considered buying a cargo one and "converting" it ourselves but the price for one of those is pretty steep too!
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:56 PM   #186
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Stealth seems to be important to Helen and a conversion van might attract less attention than a trailer.
Yes, I think stealth and flexiblity are the most important things to us. We are thinking we will hit the road when we retire in 2.5 years. We really like backpacking in the Pacific NorthWest and we'd really like to travel around the rest of the country. We envision camping, backpacking and staying in hotels. So, we really don't want to pull a trailer.

The picture of the van I posted is of a used Sportsmobile. At the time of listing it was $44,500 with 36k miles. It might be cheaper to buy a low mileage used van like that one and take out the things we don't want the to buy a new one and have it fitted for us. If we decide we like the van but want to modify it we can always do that later.

It's exciting to feel like we are getting closer to figuring out what we want.
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:59 PM   #187
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We thought the Sprinters looked good too and had the same issue with the expense. Good luck finding a reasonably priced one. We have even considered buying a cargo one and "converting" it ourselves but the price for one of those is pretty steep too!
I looked at that too. Used cargo Sprinters can be had for $10-20k if you look. Diesel engines last a lot longer than gas so 100k miles is maybe 1/5 of their life. In the end I'm happy I got the camper van.

I don't understand the idea of stealth camping and a plan to set up a stove outside. The idea of stealth is to park unobtrousevely & do your house activities without being seen. Setting up a camp outside the vehicle limits you to campgrounds.
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Old 09-24-2010, 09:09 AM   #188
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I don't understand the idea of stealth camping and a plan to set up a stove outside. The idea of stealth is to park unobtrousevely & do your house activities without being seen. Setting up a camp outside the vehicle limits you to campgrounds.
I wasn't very clear. We will sometimes want to camp in stealth mode in cities or elsewhere and other times camp in campgrounds. In addition we will park at trailheads and backpack in for a few days. I'm sure we will stay at hotels at times too.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:56 AM   #189
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Stealth seems to be important to Helen and a conversion van might attract less attention than a trailer.
I remember thinking the same thing on our first real trip in retirement. We pulled our 35ft Avion with our brand new Surburban to Brownsville, Texas for the winter. We were only there two days before the Surburban was stolen from the super market parking lot. Insurance covered a rental car and we spent the next two months finding a 3/4 ton Surburban to replace the stolen one. Never did recover the old one. We suspect in became a taxi in Mexico. That was 1988 and I'll bet the dang thing is still running.
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Old 09-25-2010, 01:20 AM   #190
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We put this outfit together to do our camping comfortably but on the cheap frugally. Our existing kayaks and 12 yr old truck coupled with a new Aliner hard-sided pop-up works for us.

Here we're in camp on Madeline Island and later waiting for the ferry to take us back to Bayfield, Wis. after a fun few days paddling Lake Superior and exploring the island's great hiking trails.
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Old 09-25-2010, 05:07 AM   #191
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Youbet - Great looking Aliner. Been looking at them since DW kaboshed my plans for a Sprinter due to price.

It looks like you have the ranger model. I like the ranger also, but their website indicates that the ranger doesn't have a toilet. Not sure if DW would like that. How do you cope without a toilet? We haven't camped in years, so I'm not familiar with campground bathroom facilities.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:13 AM   #192
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Youbet - Great looking Aliner. Been looking at them since DW kaboshed my plans for a Sprinter due to price.

It looks like you have the ranger model. I like the ranger also, but their website indicates that the ranger doesn't have a toilet. Not sure if DW would like that. How do you cope without a toilet? We haven't camped in years, so I'm not familiar with campground bathroom facilities.
Most places we camp have decent latrines with flush toilets. That includes state parks, municipal campgrounds and private campgrounds. Some of the Forest Service and National Park campgrounds only have pit toilets, although properly designed, maintained and cleaned, those aren't so bad. For DW and I, with a background in canoe based, semi-wilderness camping, having anything at all is more than we're used to.

Nevertheless, we bring along a Thetford porta-potti which stores in a cabinet under a dinette bench. If we're dry camping (which our Aliner is set up to do nicely) or boon docking, the porta-potti becomes the only option. Once, at an otherwise nice state park in Wis, we deployed the porta-potti at night because we were a long walk from the latrine, there was absolutely zero lighting and I didn't want DW on a long adventure at 3:00 AM.

At this stage, we're definitely still campers, not RV'ers. We're fine with the setup we have. If having a potti that's like being at home is important to you, you might want to look at something a little bigger like a TrailManor, although the price gets a little bigger too!
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:26 AM   #193
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Nevertheless, we bring along a Thetford porta-potti which stores in a cabinet under a dinette bench. If we're dry camping (which our Aliner is set up to do nicely) or boon docking, the porta-potti becomes the only option. Once, at an otherwise nice state park in Wis, we deployed the porta-potti at night because we were a long walk from the latrine, there was absolutely zero lighting and I didn't want DW on a long adventure at 3:00 AM.

Thanks for sharing this tidbit of info - never even knew porta-potti's for personal use existed. We may be doing some van camping and this could come in quite handy!
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:47 AM   #194
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Thanks for sharing this tidbit of info - never even knew porta-potti's for personal use existed. We may be doing some van camping and this could come in quite handy!
Glad to help. Here's what we have. It works fine and isn't too big a hassle to empty/clean. Don't get cheap excessively frugal when picking one out. Piston pumps last, bellows pumps don't. Leaks or other issues could be a nightmare. This isn't a place to compromise on quality/features to save $50. Ours, with a large stash of supplies, cost about $150.

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Old 09-25-2010, 04:19 PM   #195
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Youbet, nice camping setup. We had a VW camper for years, DW got tired of no AC, potty & shower so we gave it to our older son who camps with it and our two grandchildren. We replaced it with a T@da which we tow with our Jeep Liberty.
One of our early kayak adventured was to the Apostle Islands. Used our Folbot folding kayak and happy to have it as rentals were not available in Bayfield. Wonderful cave paddling. Warm outside but really cold water. On Memorial day there still was ice inside some of the caves. Would love to do it again and maybe Isle Royal which we still have energy. We rafted the Colorado River last month and boy are we glad we did it now, while we have the energy. The pasta tours of Italy or stained glass in the UK we can do later in life.
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Old 09-25-2010, 04:47 PM   #196
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Youbet, nice camping setup. We had a VW camper for years, DW got tired of no AC, potty & shower so we gave it to our older son who camps with it and our two grandchildren. We replaced it with a T@da which we tow with our Jeep Liberty.
One of our early kayak adventured was to the Apostle Islands. Used our Folbot folding kayak and happy to have it as rentals were not available in Bayfield. Wonderful cave paddling. Warm outside but really cold water. On Memorial day there still was ice inside some of the caves. Would love to do it again and maybe Isle Royal which we still have energy. We rafted the Colorado River last month and boy are we glad we did it now, while we have the energy. The pasta tours of Italy or stained glass in the UK we can do later in life.
Very nice yakers! I really like the T@da. One of the members of the Aliners Owners Club had his at the rally in Iowa this summer and everyone was giving it a good look.

Right now we're sticking with a folding unit since, living in the Chicago suburbs, the only we place we have to store it is in the garage and the T@da would be too tall. But despite it's diminutive size, the Aliner is quite comfy for the 2 of us and with the AC, furnace, fridge, microwave and real bed, is a huge step up from tent camping

I agree that this is the time of life for the outdoorsy stuff and the conventional tourist stuff, which we definitely plan to do, can wait a little. At 63, I'm not sure we'll be able to do anymore semi-wilderness canoe camping as I can no longer handle the portages with my arthritic knees. But we're finding that base camping with the Aliner and day tripping in the boats is great fun and we're enjoying it a lot.

We were at the Apostle Islands this past Labor Day and it was pretty brisk most days, as you can tell by how DW is dressed in the pics above. Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island is a zoo in July and August and you can hardly get a campsite reservation. But when we arrived on Labor Day afternoon, it was only lightly occupied and we practically had the place to ourselves for the rest of the week.

Good deal on the Folbot. I was looking at those at Canoecopia, in Madison, Wis, last spring. I'd like to have one for when we don't want to have the hard boats on top of the truck.

Enjoy that T@da.
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:49 PM   #197
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Thanks for sharing this tidbit of info - never even knew porta-potti's for personal use existed. We may be doing some van camping and this could come in quite handy!
Another thing that works very well is the kitty litter or sawdust in a bucket. There are made for ones that seal pretty well and use doody bags or you can go super cheap with double bags in a 5 gal bucket & toilet seat. After 2R4 uses, just tie up the bag good & dispose in any trash can. The wood or grain kitty litters work very well.
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:00 PM   #198
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Most places we camp have decent latrines with flush toilets. That includes state parks, municipal campgrounds and private campgrounds. Some of the Forest Service and National Park campgrounds only have pit toilets, although properly designed, maintained and cleaned, those aren't so bad. For DW and I, with a background in canoe based, semi-wilderness camping, having anything at all is more than we're used to.

Nevertheless, we bring along a Thetford porta-potti which stores in a cabinet under a dinette bench. If we're dry camping (which our Aliner is set up to do nicely) or boon docking, the porta-potti becomes the only option. Once, at an otherwise nice state park in Wis, we deployed the porta-potti at night because we were a long walk from the latrine, there was absolutely zero lighting and I didn't want DW on a long adventure at 3:00 AM.

At this stage, we're definitely still campers, not RV'ers. We're fine with the setup we have. If having a potti that's like being at home is important to you, you might want to look at something a little bigger like a TrailManor, although the price gets a little bigger too!
Thanks for the info. I shared the Aliner info with my SIL and we're looking into taking a trip to a dealer
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Old 09-25-2010, 07:14 PM   #199
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Here's a photo a friend sent me of their Aliner parked at the Escapee's "Escapade Goshen" a couple of weeks ago. The guy really knows how to stand out in a crowd...
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:13 AM   #200
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We were considering getting a small cargo trailer and using our HOnda Pilot. What size trailer did you get?
We had a 4Runner, and got a fiberglass Casita RV trailer 17ft, 13 of which was the RV living area. The 4Runner pulled it easily. Later we upgraded to a Sequoia for a lot more cargo space in the SUV. We never used a cargo trailer.

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