Monday, December 8, 2008
Camping with Gigi and Cosmo
In late summer '07 we bought a used pop-up tent camper mid season, knowing that we didn't have any free time to take it out. So we designated summer '08 as the Summer of the Camper and planned several weekend trips and one long trip to visit Teed and the gang, and then to continue on with the boys for more camping with Gramma and Papa. We planned the first trip to a state park close to our house and dubbed that the "Shakedown Cruise," thinking that we'd learn what we needed to know about the operation, set up and take down of our new toy. We did learn a few things, mostly about camping in the rain (don't like it), that the heater works, and that unless we're with grandchildren there isn't much to be said for camping in a nondescript park that doesn't offer much more than our own back yard. (top photo is Cosmo during the shakedown)
Next trip was on 4th of July weekend when we trucked on over the mountain to central Washington and met up with 'Nando and gang. This trip got off to a bit of a rocky start when the camper fell off the hitch at the first stoplight less than a mile from our house. We learned how to make sure the hitch is secure and how to get it back on in the middle of a busy intersection and in the pouring rain. Once we got to our campsite the weather cleared up and we had a weekend of sheer fun with the kiddos, doing all the requisite traditional camping stuff: campfires, s'mores, corn on the cob, hot dogs, fishing. It was great. (Photos 2 and 3)
Then we headed out for the BIG TRIP. We planned two weeks on the road. Day 3 brought the beginning of the car troubles that plagued the trip. In spite of having had some major work done to the truck in preparation for the long journey, we the truck started acting up when we arrived in Bismarck ND. Basically it just died. Several phone calls to our mechanic back home and lots of speculation failed to answer any questions, but mysteriously the truck started to work again. Then we got not one, but two flat tires on the camper, and we learned how to fix those.
We made it to Teed's house and hooked the camper up to her van so we could take the boys on the next leg of the trip, leaving the truck for Teed and the perfesser to take to work while we were away. No sooner did we get out of town than they started to have trouble with the truck. We cut our trip short to get back to figure out what was wrong, and ended up having a second fuel pump installed by Teed's mechanic. (photo 4 is us with the boys back at their house)
Thinking we were good to go we headed home and made it about 500 miles before the truck just stopped once again, this time just outside Miles City, Montana. (Last photo. Notice the wide open spaces, cows and the proverbial Big Sky)
To round out the adventure, we called a tow truck which dropped us and the camper at a campsite, and took the truck on over to the local Chevy dealer, where it stayed for three days and was put to all the diagnostics they knew. Somewhere during Day 2 Cosmo started looking at buying a replacement vehicle and trading in the truck. Meanwhile back at the campsite, I engaged in lots of conversations with other campers and the campground staff and heard many opinions about what might be wrong with the truck. (It's pretty easy to engage a Montanan in a conversation about a pickup.)
We ended up buying a used Jeep which got us home safely. We still laugh about how naive we were to think that our first short weekend trip would be the shake down where we'd learn everything we needed to know about the camper. When we tell the story lots of folks ask if we have sold the camper. Perish the thought, after all we've got invested into the thing by now. And we really do enjoy being out in it, especially with the kids.
We have decided that we're not going to take it farther than 500 miles from home (a day's drive where we could be rescued if need be)
I do think this would make a good screen play, though. I see Chevy Chase playing the part of Cosmo. I'm still looking for titles and a ghost writer.