masthead picture of sunset in Alaska


Camping before Janet

I've been camping for as long as I can remember. When I was little, we lived in the outskirts of Seattle. In the summer our family would load up in the stationwagon, and drive over to the east side of the Cascade Mountains to camp alongside a stream that ran through a particular valley. Mom and dad loaded the car, and then us kids would be laid out in the back on sleeping bags to sleep while they drove. It was what would be called a primitive camp these days. The spot was pretty flat, with nice trees, a good stream running through it, and that was all. Nothing else but what would fit in the stationwagon around all of us kids. We cooked over an open fire, until after a few years dad built a stone fire place to cook on, from rocks we gathered from around the stream. Our water came from the stream, and we went down and dipped it out with a bucket.

As a vacation, a few days of living out of the back of a stationwagon was a treat that a large family like ours could afford. The east side of the Cascades was a great place for camping as a kid; where we would run, explore, and play in the woods and stream. We would get to do a little fishing and some plinking with the old .22 rifle, good stuff for a young boy.

As a young man I would go out when I could; hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing. Not as much as I wanted, but enough to remind me of the simple joy of being out in the woods seeing nature at work. I love being out in the woods, seeing, hearing, and smelling the woods and creatures around me. I was always a tent camper, and ones camping gear all fit in a pack or the trunk of a car. When it was time to go camping I would grab some clothes and throw them in the pack, the gear in the car, and be on my way in 15 minutes.

Camping with Janet

Camping at Memalose State Park on the Columbia River in Oregon.
Tent camping at Memalose State Park on the Columbia River in Oregon

When I married Janet, I learned that ideas and definitions of what was camping were not always the same. Janet is the oldest of three girls. In a family of 4 females and 1 male, things are done differently. They had a travel trailer, with a kitchen, and a bathroom, and beds! I still loved to go camping but found after a couple of tent camping trips we were not getting out as much as I was hoping. After some discussion I found that she was not too fond of having to get dressed and walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night (the prefered :-) situation) or out behind the designated tree(s) (not a happy place :-(((( to do her business). If I wanted to have a better chance of going camping together with her than of seeing a blizard in hell, we were in the market for a RV. She wanted a bathroom, a kitchen, and a bed to sleep on.

Getting our first RV

WE started looking at trailers and asking other owners what they liked and disliked about their rigs and the manufacturer who built them. We learned a lot from so many RVers that helped us get a direction for our first trailer. We decided upon a trailer because we would use the truck for other things besides pulling the trailer. I started reading the columns about problems that others were having with their trucks and trailers. Over a period of time I started to see some patterns, and reoccuring themes in the problems.

Our new pickup at the entrance to Glacier National Park.
Our new pickup at the entrance to Glacier National Park

That helped us choose our new pickup, a 2002 GMC 2500HD crewcab with the Duramax engine and Allison transimission. It has been a good choice for us. The harder part was finding the right trailer. We liked the 5th wheel type but we decided on a bumper pull model that a friend showed us, which was the layout he was looking for. It was a bedroom forward, bath in the back, and the middle was the kitchen and living room with a slide-out going down the whole left wall. It seemed just right for us and the dogs, and would make a great starter rig. We looked for a year for a used one with that layout and didn't find any for sale. Finally, my friend and desided we would look at new since we were not finding any used. We went to some dealers and enquired about a couple of trailers. We told them "we are buying 2, so sharpen your pencil".

Our new trailer out on it's first camping trip.
Our new trailer out on it's first camping trip

We worked out a pretty good deal with a dealership and became the proud owners of a new trailer. It has been a lot of fun and I must admit that it's not a bad way to travel. It's nice to not have to go for a hike at four in the morning when the temprature has dropped into the teens or single digit range. Having all the things that make cooking easier right there, and not having to feed all the mosquitos (they love me) while making and eating dinner is very nice. I still like sitting around a camp fire and getting a bit of smoke on my clothes, but it's nice to do it by choice and not be forced to. The best part of having the trailer is that we get out a lot more often than we would without it, and we can go all year. Camping in the middle of winter out by the ocean is not something I would have done with a tent. It is very wet and windy, but with the trailer it isn't a problem, and there aren't a lot of other people out that time of year.

Getting out

We go for 2 weeks at the end of June or the first part of July for our anniversary and usually get another week or so at the end of summer. We also try to go for a few days late in the fall or the begining of winter. In April, I take it out for a week to week and a half for turkey hunting, and if we can make it work out a couple of days later in the spring. I think thats not too bad with the schedules we keep. I mean after all, we still have to get in our real lives and keep up the house....

Devil's Tower, Wyoming.
We stopped at Devil's Tower in Wyoming on our way to the Black Hills

Our summer trips are the big ones and we have gotten out on some nice trips. I'll put a few in here with some pictures to have a look at.

Camping Trips

The Black Hills in 2006

More to come...